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Inflammation of the mastoid process and mastoid sinuses

Alternative Names 
simple mastoidectomy, modified radical mastoidectomy, tympanoplasty radical mastoidectomy

A mastoidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the mastoid bone, which is the bone directly behind the ear.

Who is a candidate for the procedure? 
This procedure is done for people who have chronic mastoiditis, which is infection or inflammation of the mastoid. A buildup of debris in the middle ear from long-term infections such as chronic otitis media, cancer, or a bone infection can cause the problem. A mastoidectomy may also be used to get to the inside of the skull to remove a brain tumour.

How is the procedure performed? 
A mastoidectomy is usually done under general anaesthesia. This means that the person is put to sleep with medication. An incision is made behind the ear. The surrounding bone is drilled to gain access to the mastoid cavity. The mastoid bone is then removed. The incision is closed with sutures, and a dressing is applied.

What happens right after the procedure? 
After the procedure, the person will be taken to the surgery recovery room. Mild discomfort may be felt, and this can be relieved with analgesia. The person will begin to take fluids when no nausea is present, and can usually go home within a few hours.

What happens later at home? 
After surgery, it is important to keep water out of the ear canal. Antibiotics or analgesias may be ordered. Eardrops may be used to keep the ear canal moist, which can help in the healing process.

What are the potential complications after the procedure? 
Complications are rare, but may include nerve damage to the face, dizziness, hearing impairment, taste disturbance, and infection.

Author: Mark Loury, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 19/02/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

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