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What is Stapedectomy?

Dr John J. Shea Jr. was the first Doctor to perform a Stapendectoy in May 1956. The patient was a 54 year old woman who suffered from rapid hearing loss and experienced little relief from her hearing aid.

Stapedectomy is conducted to improve sound movement and hearing and involves the stapes bone. This procedure can also be performed when there is a malformation of the stapes bone at birth. The surgical method of treatment is conducted under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. The patient’s ear drum is moved which allows for a small hole to be drilled with the use of a micro-drill or laser into the stapes footplate. The old stapes is removed and a prosthesis is inserted into the stapes area. The eardrum is realigned. The process takes an hour and a half and the patient is asleep during the whole procedure. Research shows that tinnitus suffers feel some relief weeks after surgery and the success of the surgery depends highly on the skill and knowledge of the surgeon.

Research provided per 100 patients:

Research done recently proved that 88% of patients experience total relief, 7% of patients feel hearing improvements but not as expected, and a shocking 50% of patients feel worse than before.

Preparation for Stapedectomy

Before the operation a hearing test must be conducted. This should be done by a audiologist or otologist. The test’s conducted are called rinne’s and weber’s tests. Rinne and weber tests are done with the use of a turning fork.

  • A rinne’s test distinguishes the air and bone conduction hearing.
  • A weber test distinguishes conductive and sensorineural hearing. 

During both the above tests, a turning fork is stricken at 512 Hz and placed in different parts of the head and ear.

Some factors to be taken or risks that occur after stapedectomy:
  • After the operation most patients are warned not to blow their nose or wet the ear until the ear is completely healed
  • Dizziness (usually lasting for a day or two)
  • All patients are advised to return to normal activities a week after surgery
  • Often the patient may experience a loss of taste or a strange metallic taste
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • A dead labyrinth or labyrinthitis
  • Deafness
  • Vomiting
  • Unbearable Dizziness (Vertigo)
  • Swimming
  • Air plane trips
  • Vertigo
  • Facial paralysis usually on operated side
  • Tinnitus
  • Loud noises
  • A tear in the tympanic membrane or ear drum

What are stapes?

The middle ear consists of 3 bones. The incus, malleus and stapes. The incus joins to the malleus and thereafter to the stapes. These three bones transmit sound vibrations from the ear drum to the inner ear.
Sound vibrations activate the eardrum and vibrations cause the first bone, the malleus to move. The malleus then causes the incus (second middle ear bone) to move which allow for the stapes to move and vibrate. The stapes have a very important task to fulfill as they cause the inner ear fluid to move and allows for sound to be processed by the brain (this is how we hear).

Otosclerosis is an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear, it can affect certain parts of the middle ear or the entire middle ear. The spongy bone of the stapes hardens causing the malleus, incus or the stapes to malfunction and results in progressive hearing loss or deafness. Research shows that 0.8% of the population will be exposed to otosclerosis.
White middle aged females are more prone to experiencing hearing loss than men.

Pregnant women have also proven to have higher levels of hearing loss.
Otosclerosis can be treated by stapedectomy, but attempts have proven short term relief and the hearing loss still persists with greater force.

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