My visit to Mass Eye and Ear

I fell New Year’s day and have had trouble hearing in my left ear since. Yesterday was my appointment at Mass Eye and Ear. I was examined and given a second hearing test (had one done by a local audiologist 2 weeks ago).

The local audiologist I saw suspected ossicular chain disruption, and that’s same conclusion my doctor at Mass Eye and Ear came to also. But, Mass Eye and Ear found a slight sensorineural loss too. I always thought my right ear was the “stronger” of the two, but didn’t think the left ear was a problem. Guess I was wrong.

The conclusion is they can fix the bone dislocation and I think I’m going to have it done once winter is over. It will give me back a lot of my hearing so it’s worth it to me.

So, I guess I wrote to introduce myself. I’m sort of new around here. Sort of terrified of surgery. Looking for input from anyone who has had ear surgery, wondering what I can expect after wards. I was told there would be packing in my ear, I would go back a week later to have that removed. A hearing test would follow a few weeks later, follow ups for a few months and then I’d be as good as they can make me.

Not having it done for a few months, the weather where I am has been snowstorm after snowstorm so I’m going to wait until spring. I’m learning a lot reading through the forums. :slight_smile: Now I just need to get a copy of my hearing test results.

> ossicular chain disruption

Sounds like a pretty generic description. Do they know exactly what the problem is and what they plan to do to fix it.? As I am sure you are aware these bones are TINY and working on them is not easy. Furthermore, I suspect your condition is RARE and the they may not know exactly what they are going to do until they see whats in there.

Certainly Mass General is very highly regarded, but I would query the surgeon who will be doing this work on his experience with procedures on the ossicular chain. I would ask him more in detail what he thinks is wrong, how it happened and how he will fix it. The most common procedure on these bones is probably the stapedectomy, and there are surgeons who have performed ten thousand of these. Then again your ‘repair job’ may not even involve the stapes at all. There is a surgeon at the Lippy Clinic, Leonard Berenholtz who has done some complete chain replacements, you might want to consider querying him. The Lippy clinic has an excellent video library on the web where you can hear Dr.Berenholtz talk about this procedure (He calls it TORP for total replacement)), which you should be able to find with ease.

Can you post your audiogram (both bone and air).

If you are going to have it sorted with a teflon pin or a stapes repair, I have only one bit of advice: GET IT DONE IN FRANCE.

You might think it sounds mad, but there is only one guy I’d be happy about doing that operation on me and he’s got a purpose designed clinic/hospital in France where they do 200-300 per year. At the time we saw the comparison, the best surgeon in the UK has done 35 in his lifetime, the French guy does one a day.

It’s also cheaper than most other places: including a week recuperation, it was about 3500 Euro.

I have no affiliation with them BTW.

Thanks! I don’t have my audiogram copy, called to get my copy.

I wish I could afford to travel to Europe, but that won;t happen on my very limited budget. :rolleyes:

A severe blow to the side of the head a month ago and I haven’t heard correctly out of my left ear since. I hit with enough force to dislocate the bones in my left ear. My right ear is 100% fine. I still have some numbness on my scalp. There is also a small damaged area in the temporal bone from the impact.

The doctor’s information is:
Michael J. McKenna, M.D.

Professor of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School
Surgeon in Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

His research/focus is mainly on otosclerosis (which my son has).

Dr. McKenna admitted that he won’t know 100% how bad the damage to the ossicular chain is until he’s actually doing the surgery.

Meant to ask for a copy of the audiogram while I was there and then forgot. As soon as I get it I will post it. Apparently my word recognition right now is terrible in my left ear. Good thing I still have a good functioning right ear.

I had ear surgery in December of 2009. It was for a Stapedotomy. They replaced my stapes bone with a teflon and titanium piston. They use a laser to remove most of the stapes bone. They drill a small hole into the oval foot plate and anchor the implant in the hole and crimp the end of it onto the next bone in the ossicular chain.

Like your doctor told you my ear was packed with gauze when I awoke from surgery. I went back to Dr 3 times over the next week. First time did not remove any packing. Just checked pain levels and made sure there was not any abnormal seepage or bleeding from the ear. 2nd time replaced the outer bandage and first layer of gauze. Not in the canal, just the outer ear. Third time removed the rest of the gauze packing. And put just a cotton ball with some antibiotic cream back in its place.

That’s when I found that there was another layer of dissolving packing in the ear. He said it would slowly dissolve and come out. And until it did I would still have that feeling of my ear full of cotton. Over the next few weeks visits the doc slowly used a small vacuum to remove the blood, dissolving packing, ear wax, etc, until the ear canal was clear and healed.

Ok, so that is the packing side of the story. The rest of it may scare the hell out of you. Not telling you to scare you, just to tell you what “could” happen. I will tell you that my situation is not the “normal” results. But I was not the only one who had these same or similar results. There is another forum that I have been a member of that is more dedicated to those kinds of surgeries. I have read lots of posting there based upon ear surgeries. Anyway, here is “My” story.

The first night of surgery was the most miserable day I have ever had. I was sick to my stomach for over 18 hours. I did not eat anything so I have no clue where this stuff kept coming from. Thankfully since I had not eaten it was just liquids.

Your inner ear is part of your balance and equilibrium system. Over the next 5 or 6 days I could not move without feeling extremely dizzy. And many times that dizziness made me sick to my stomach again. Even sitting with my body still and just moving my head would trigger it. Riding in the car to go to the doctor was real fun! But, it eventually stopped and I have not had any problems with it since.

Pain was actually not that bad. They gave me a prescription for pain pills, but did not really need them. And the pills for nausea did not really help much obviously.

My sense of taste was effected too. Things tasted weird for about 2 or 3 weeks before returning to normal. I knew ahead of time to expect that. There is a nerve that runs through the area that is part of your taste buds. The swelling puts pressure on the nerve and makes the signals to the brain go crazy. Once the swelling went down my taste went back to normal.

The only remaining issue I have from the surgery is a slight tingling and numbness. My ear canal and part of my face directly in front of my ear are still slightly numb and tingle. It comes and goes, do not feel it all the time, or I have just learned to ignore it. Just like I am able to ignore my tinnitus! And it is not so severe that it really bothers me. And I can still feel touch to the area. Just sometimes feels tingly and numb.

The reason for this is that they had to chisel my ear canal larger to be able to get into my inner ear to perform the surgery. The doctor did not tell me about this before hand. Said he did not know until he cut my ear open and saw the size of the opening into my inner ear. Anyway, removing the bone and tissue destroyed nerve endings, resulting in this tingle and numb feeling. Most likely will have it the rest of my life.

Now, after going through all of that I am sad to say that the surgery was not a success. My hearing did not improve. Thankfully it did not get worse, but it did not improve. Discussing it with the doctor said many things could have caused it. Implant slipped out of place due to the severe and constant vomiting was the most likely culprit. After 10 months they eventually did a CT scan. Results of the CT scan showed that the implant had not slipped.

I waited for almost a year hoping to wake up one morning and find that my hearing had gotten better. They kept giving me hearing tests to see if there was a change. There never was. The doctor said that he could perform the surgery again with a different style or size of implant. After the side effects of the first surgery there was no way I was going through that again. So, hear I am looking at hearing aids!!

Now, like I said earlier. I am not telling this story to scare you. Just giving you a warning that things can go wrong!! Thankfully it did not make my hearing worse than it was. And I can still get hearing aids.

If I were in a position where there was no hearing, I think I would still take the risk and go ahead with the surgery. As without the ossicular chain intact a hearing aid would not help. Only other option are Cochlear Implants and Bone Anchored Hearing Aids. Since that all involve surgery I think I would start with this surgery first.

But, in your case you seem to have some hearing. So not sure how I would handle it. If you still have numbness on your scalp you may still have swelling that is causing the hearing loss. You have said that you want to wait until spring. That may be a good thing as it may give time for any remaining swelling to go away.

Thank you so much for sharing your story!! So sorry that you went through so much and have nothing to show for it now.

Right now I do have hearing in that ear, but it’s very distorted. With the bones out of alignment they vibrate horribly and do not conduct sounds correctly or loudly. I’ve been describing it like this: someone turned the outside volume down, the inside my head volume up, and then put a kazoo in my ear. Incoming sounds are garbled and distorted (which is why I did badly on the word recognition tests), and when I speak my voice just hums like I’m playing a kazoo in my left ear.

I was talking to a couple of people at work the other day. I started to say something at the same time my coworker asked me a question. All I heard was the kazoo playing in my left ear as I spoke, I did not hear my coworker. At the grocery store yesterday the person bagging my groceries asked me a question (they were on my right side) and the cashier asked me a question at the same time (she was on my left side), I heard the bagger but not the cashier. When the bagger stopped talking and looked over at the cashier I realized that the cashier needed me for something. With all the sounds of the store coming in to my left ear and everything just humming and being not clear I could not filter out the cashier’s voice over the rest of the noises in my left ear.

I have been asked by three doctors now if I get dizzy as a result of the accident and damage to my ear. I don’t, just once in a great while if I move too quickly I’ll list to to the left a little. Dr. McKenna said that was a good thing, maybe he thinks I won’t be too dizzy after surgery? I can hope.

My reasons for waiting a few months before proceeding with the surgery are really quite selfish. I’m a snowmobiler and I can’t ride if I can’t wear my helmet, and I can’t wear my helmet for quite a while after the surgery. So I’m waiting.

I tripped into my porch railing. I was concentrating on getting my keys out to unlock my door, so one hand was in my pocketbook. I tripped, fell forward, put my free left hand out to break the fall, but I missed the balusters and my arm went between them. I hit the left side of my head about 5 inches above my left ear, that knocked me unconscious. Once unconscious I then fell onto the porch stairs, landing on the left side of my face. The only remaining swelling at this point seems to be on my scalp, where I initially impacted and was knocked unconscious. The impact to the left side of my face happened after I was out cold, and it was most likely that impact that dislocated the ear bones.

Right now, I would be thrilled to get rid of the kazoo effect. A hearing aid unfortunately wouldn’t help as it would just amplify the awful kazoo effect. If the kazoo effect didn’t exist and it was just my hearing was softer, I can honestly say I would just wear a hearing aid. I hate surgery since I react to anesthesia by shaking and crying when I wake up. I need to weigh the pros and cons, but if Dr. McKenna can cure the kazoo, I’d be thrilled. Even if my hearing is still softer after just getting rid of the kazoo would be a success.

Again, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s exactly what I was looking for, someone’s personal experience - good or bad. Dr. McKenna was honest, said I may still have hearing issues even after the repair. I understand, but if my kazoo effect comes to an end I would be thrilled.

That Kazoo sound you mention is actually familiar to me. When they took the rest of the gauze out of my ear my hearing was almost exactly like you describe. My own voice was extremely loud and high pitched noises caused the kazoo effect more than the low pitched noises. It slowly subsided over about 2 days before it went completely away.

I remember that putting the cotton ball in my ear greatly lessened the kazoo effect. I could still hear through the cotton, but the kazoo noise was a lot better. Have you tried something like that?

I have some foam earplugs that I’ve been using when I ride my snowmobile. The sound of the snowmobile was horrendous in the kazoo ear, the foam earplaug lessened it a lot but I can still hear with that ear with the earplug in. Guess I can try that all the time for now until I have the bones realigned.

Isn’t that kazoo effect awful!? I’ve been like this since right after the fall. That’s what I really can’t stand. I can ignore the tinnitus, I can handle the volume being lower, but I can’t stand that kazoo effect.

Yes, it was Awful. The doctor had told me that I was going to be hearing strange things the surgery. And from reading on other forums I did see that other people had posted similar comments. So it was not unexpected. And for me it went away quickly. I can imagine that it would have really bothered me if it lasted weeks or months.

The worst for me was the first few hours after having the packing removed. After that it was high pitched sounds that set it off. Such as a car horn. So I was not constantly bombarded with it the way you are. I hope this surgeon can help!

Me too!!! Thanks, I really do appreciate your sharing. I’m still scared, but this kazoo thing has to go.

Dr. McKenna specializes in the inner ear and he does procedures on the ossicular chain all the time.

Still scared though :rolleyes: