Tympanic membrane (TM) perforations occur when there is a hole in the ear drum. These perforations can be from infections, injury, and certain surgeries. When the eardrum ruptures, it can cause pain, but otherwise TM perforations are painless. Other symptoms include hearing loss, muffled hearing, and ringing in the ear. If a middle ear infection is present, the patient will have drainage as the infection is draining through the perforation into the ear canal. If a patient with a TM perforation gets water in their ear, the water will cross the perforation into the middle ear, which then can cause a middle ear infection. For this reason, patients with TM perforations should keep water out of the affected ear. Most acute TM perforations will heal spontaneously on their own without the need for surgical intervention. If the perforation has not healed after 6 weeks, then it likely will not heal on its own. TM perforations can be closed surgically by performing a myringoplasty or tympanoplasty. A myringoplasty is less invasive and often can be done in the office (on adults), while a tympanoplasty is a little more invasive. When to do a myringoplasty versus a tympanoplasty depends on a variety of factors. An untreated TM perforation can cause hearing loss and potentially make the patient more prone to middle ear infections (from water exposure).
Call Waco Ear, Nose & Throat at (254) 776-7744 for more information or to schedule an appointment.