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Your mastoid bone is located just behind your ear, a damaged mastoid may be repaired surgically.

Located in your middle ear, your mastoid is made up of many air filled spaces that help keep pressure in your ear balanced.

An infection in your middle ear can spread to your mastoid and eventually damage the bone. Often a pocket of cells grows from your outer ear into your middle ear causing infection, discharge, swelling and hearing loss. To prevent further damage your consultant may recommend mastoid surgery.

What happens during mastoid surgery?

Mastoid surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic and can take up to 3 hours. The method used will depend on the level of infection and damage within your middle ear.

Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) either behind your ear or just above your ear. They will remove the bone that is covering the infected area leaving the area (called the mastoid cavity) open. Sometimes surgeons leave the area open to allow it to be inspected and to heal. Or they may close the area using bone, cartilage or muscle. Be sure and discuss what methods will be used with your surgeon.

You may have a gauze pack in your ear and a bandage covering your ear. The bandage will be removed before you go home. The gauze pack may need to stay in place for 2-3 weeks.

Use over the counter pain relief such as paracetomal if you are in any pain. Sleep on the side opposite your operated ear.

Mastoid surgery is sometimes done as a day case meaning you will be able to go home the day of your surgery. Sometimes an overnight stay is required.

Going home after mastoid surgery

You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to take you home when you are discharged from hospital.

Take over the counter pain relief medication such as paracetamol if needed.

You will need to come back to our outpatient unit 2-3 weeks following your surgery to have the gauze pack removed. If the pack falls out before this visit don’t worry. Just telephone us for further instructions.

You may have slight discharge from your ear. If you experience any increase in this discharge be sure and contact us.

Keep your ear dry until you see your consultant for a follow-up visit. Gently plug your ear with cotton wool before you shower or wash your hair.

Discuss any return to work with your consultant.

Most people make a good recovery from mastoid surgery. As with any surgery there could be complications including:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anaesthetic

Specific complications of mastoid surgery may include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Reaction to dressings

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns with your surgeon?

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