Dr Colin Brown - Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeon
When the growth of one of the tiny bones in your middle ear, the stapes, changes from hard to soft and spongy, it leads to the condition called otosclerosis. As this abnormal growth develops, the stapes becomes more rigid or fixed in position. The stapes needs to be able to vibrate to allow sound vibrations to pass through to the inner ear. When the stapes is not vibrating as well as it should, gradual hearing loss can occur. Otosclerosis may occur in one or both ears and may sometimes be associated with ringing/clicking/buzzing noises in your ear (tinnitus). The condition will be diagnosed by examination of your ear after an assessment of the history of the hearing loss, examination and hearing testing. Sometimes a CT scan of the ear may be needed. Otosclerosis most often develops during teenage and early adult years and it tends to run in families. The condition can become worse during pregnancy.
There are several different approaches to treating otosclerosis. Hearing aids work very well for many people with otosclerosis. A surgical option is a surgical procedure called stapedectomy is also available. This is a microsurgical procedure (microscopic lenses are used to help the surgeon see the tiny structures involved) usually performed through the ear canal. A small cut (incision) is made in the ear canal near the eardrum and the eardrum is lifted, exposing the middle ear and its bones. Part of the stapes bone is removed using a laser, and an artificial prosthesis inserted to help transmit sound into the inner ear. The eardrum is then folded back into position. The surgery is most often performed under general anaesthetic (you sleep through it). You will be advised not to fly, blow your nose or allow any water to get into your ear for about four weeks after the operation.
For further information about otosclerosis please click here.