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What is a mastoidectomy?

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A mastoidectomy is the surgical removal of infected mastoid air cells, according to MedlinePlus. These cells are found in the hollow, air-filled spaces of the skull behind the ear. Surgeons use this surgery to treat ear infection complications, cholesteatoma and mastoid bone infections that do not improve with antibiotics. A mastoidectomy may also be done to place a cochlear implant.

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Types of mastoidectomy include simple mastoidectomy, radical mastoidectomy and modified radical mastoidectomy, explains Healthline. In simple mastoidectomy, a surgeon surgically opens the mastoid bone, removes infected cells and drains the middle ear. In radical mastoidectomy, a surgeon removes the middle ear and ear drum structures, and may place a skin graft in the middle ear. In modified radical mastoidectomy, the surgeon removes some of the bones in the middle ear and rebuilds the ear drum.

The patient is given general anesthesia before the operation, notes Healthline. For a simple mastoidectomy, the surgeon makes an incision behind the ear to access the mastoid bone. He opens this bone using a microscope and a small drill. The surgeon uses suction irrigation to ensure the surgical area is free of bone dust. He then removes the infected cells, stitches up the site and covers the site with gauze to stop drainage. Risks of mastoidectomy include hearing loss, recurring infections, dizziness and changes in taste, states MedlinePlus. Some patients may experience weakness of the face and noises in the ears.

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