Ear surgery on mastoid cells

Surgery to remove the air-filled honeycomb-like cells in the ear should they become inflamed or infected

What are the problems with mastoid cells?

You may decide to have your mastoid cells removed if they become inflamed or infected. If left untreated, over time you could lose your hearing, your balance organ may be destroyed, and damage to your facial nerve would paralyse the side of your face.

It can also cause brain infections, because the ear is so close to the brain. Therefore it may be necessary to remove your mastoid cells before the condition causes too much damage.

Need to know

  • What happens during surgery? icon plus

    The procedure is done under general anaesthetic. The aim is to remove all the disease but preserve as much of the workings of your ear as possible.

    You will have a cut either behind your ear, or just in front and above your ear. The mastoid bone is like a bony sponge, full of little pockets that can harbour the infection, so these will need to be removed. After the disease has been removed, a graft will be used to seal up any hole in the eardrum, and packing placed in the ear canal.

    There are multiple variations of the mastoid operation, so your consultant will explain the details which apply to you.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will advise you on how you should prepare for the procedure. As your surgeon will make a cut either behind your ear, or just in front and above your ear, you may have an area of your head shaved. You should avoid eating or drinking before your general anaesthetic.
  • After surgery icon plus

    You will stay in hospital at least one night after the operation. If the stitches are not dissolveable, they will be removed after one or two weeks. The packing will be removed from your ear after one to three weeks. If you are careful about keeping water away from your operated ear, you can wash your hair after a week.

    You should be able to swim about four to six weeks after the operation, depending on how well the operation has healed. You should be able to fly at any time after the operation unless you have also had an operation to improve your hearing at the same time as the mastoid operation. You can check with your consultant.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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