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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this surgery, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the surgery and how you can help.
A hole in the eardrum or "perforated eardrum" can come from a bad ear infection; a surgical procedure, such as placement of an ear tube; or from injury, such as sticking something inside the ear canal. Although some holes heal on their own, if they last for more than 3 months without infection or drainage, they are unlikely to close by themselves. The decision on how to surgically close a perforation depends on a variety of factors, including the patient’s age, and the size and location of the eardrum hole.
The simplest repair is called a myringoplasty. It works best with relatively small holes. In this surgery, the hole is covered with a small piece of special paper or gel foam that temporarily seals the hole, encouraging the body’s normal healing processes. Sometimes fat from the child’s ear lobe is used as the patch.
Another common surgery for repairing a hole in the eardrum is called a tympanoplasty. The hole is patched with a graft of the patient’s own tissue, either a connective tissue called fascia (FASH-ah) or perichondrium (per-uh-KON-dree-um) that come from underneath the skin.
In tympanoplasty, the surgeon slips the new tissue behind or on top of the hole in the eardrum. To hold the tissue in place, the surgeon packs a tiny wad of special material behind it. This material slowly dissolves over the next 2 to 3 months while the eardrum heals.
Sometimes a tympanoplasty can be performed completely through the ear canal. But when the ear canal is too small or the hole is too large to be completely seen through the ear canal, the surgeon must reach the eardrum through an incision behind the ear. Because the incision is behind the ear, no scar is visible after it heals. Packing sometimes also is placed in the ear canal to hold the patch in place during healing.
When general anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the surgery. One business day before your child’s surgery, you will receive a phone call from a surgery nurse between 1 and 9 p.m. (Surgery nurses do not make these phone calls on weekends or holidays.) Please have paper and a pen ready to write down these instructions.
The nurse will ask you about your child’s medical history, current medications and readiness for the surgery. If you have any questions, you may ask the nurse at this time.
The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the surgery. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
After a tympanoplasty and myringoplasty surgery, you might notice some of the following signs. These symptoms are normal:
Although most children recover quickly from tympanoplasty and myringoplasty surgery with no problems, you should immediately call your child’s ENT doctor, pediatrician or Children’s surgery nurse if your child has any of these symptoms:
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children’s Hospital before the surgery and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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To pay your bill online, please visit UPMC's online bill payment system.
Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.