Swan LogoWhat is Mastoid/Tympanomastoid Surgery?

The mastoid bone lies behind the ear and is usually made up of many open air cells.  Infection of the middle ear may lead to infection of the mastoid (called mastoiditis) and these air cells fill up with pus.  Left untreated, bone can even be destroyed and the infection could extend to other important areas of the head such as the brain.  If treatment with antibiotics does not clear up the infection, surgery may be needed.  Another, and more common, reason for mastoid surgery is in the case of a chronic draining ear or when a benign tumor called a cholesteatoma exists. 

Exactly how the surgery will be done will depend on which problem you have.  Simple mastoid surgery for mastoiditis usually involves an incision directly onto the mastoid bone from behind the ear.  Tympanomastoid surgery is needed for the chronic draining ear or in the case of a cholesteatoma.  This surgery involves the middle ear space as well as the mastoid and usually the incision may be through the tympanic membrane (eardrum) or behind the ear.

Ear Diagram
1 =  Mastoid Bone 2 = Middle Ear 3 = Tympanic membrane (eardrum)

What will happen the day of the surgery?

You will arrive at the hospital and the staff will help get you ready for the surgery.  After the surgery is over, you will be taken to the recovery room for about an hour, until you are awake from the anesthesia.  Then you will be taken to your room for a couple of more hours until the nurses think you are ready to go home.

 How do I take care of myself after the surgery?

  • If there is a bulky, thick dressing in place, leave it on until the first post-op visit.  The Doctor or Nurse Practitioner will remove it and determine if another dressing is needed.
  • If the surgery involves making an incision behind the ear, a drain will likely be in place.  Do not disturb the drain or the dressing.  This drain will be removed in the office within  few days, but this depends on the type of surgery done.
  • Do not lie on or sleep on the side with the bulky dressing.
  • If only a small Band-aid and cotton is in place, this can be changed whenever necessary.
  • Do not allow the ear to get wet or water to get in the ear canal.
  • Do not remove any packing in the ear canal.  This packing, if there is any, is not cotton or gauze, but a gel-like substance that will dissolve when you start using antibiotic drops about 1 week after surgery.
  • Keep the stitches clean and dry.  Do not allow shampoo, soap or water on the stitches.
  • Do not lie flat: use 3 pillows to keep your head up at night.
  • Do not use alcohol while taking pain medication.
  • No straining, lifting or bending.  If you must reach down, bend at the knees.
  • Do not return to housework, yard work or your job until your surgeon tells you it is ok.
  • Avoid coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.  If you must sneeze, keep your mouth wide open.
  • Generally you will be out of school or work for 2-7 days.
  • No gym class for 3-4 weeks depending on whether or not the middle ear bones were operated on.
  • No band until cleared by your surgeon.
  • If your work involves heavy lifting or is very strenuous, you will need to be out of work for 2 weeks after your surgery.
  • If you notice any dizziness, bloody drainage of drainage that looks like pus or if you have increased pain, call the office at 692-4500.
  • Your first post-op visit will usually be one week after the surgery.


Form 101 Rev 11/05

361 High Street Somersworth, NH 03878
John M. O'Day, M.D., F.A.C.S. Marjorie K. Stock, M.D. ,F.A.C.S.
William E. Long, Hearing Instrument Specialist
Telephone: 603-692-4500 Fax: 603-692-4520
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