Otosclerosis is a condition whereby the third ear bone or the stapes is actually fixed or stuck. Typically, what happens is, when sound comes in through the ear canal, it vibrates the eardrum, which moves the little bones of hearing, which then moves that third ear bone in a fluid-filled space that moves hair cells, that gets ions transferred, that depolarizes or activates a nerve, and that goes, and we hear. It goes to the brain, and we interpret that as sound.
Loading the player...Otosclerosis and Treatment With Surgery Dr. Jane Lea, MD, FRCSC, Otologist/Neurotologist, Paediatric Otolaryngologist, discusses Otosclerosis and Treatment With Surgery
When that third ear bone or the stapes is stuck, what happens is it can’t transmit the sound into the organ of hearing or the cochlea. That condition is actually hereditary, although not everybody actually has a family history because a lot of people have it but don’t actually present with any of the symptoms.
The surgery itself involves removing that third ear bone and putting a little prosthesis in, which then makes the ear bones mobile again. When patients have otosclerosis, actually, the only symptom they’ll have is hearing loss. They won’t have any other ear symptoms at all. Sometimes, they can have a ringing in the ear or tinnitus, but otherwise, they have no other symptoms.
When their doctor or their family physician examines them, their eardrum looks completely normal. The only way we can tell is by doing a special hearing test with an audiologist, and we can typically pick up that type of hearing loss.
If you have otosclerosis, there are risks involved with performing the surgery. The most concerning one we worry about is having a complete loss of hearing or loss of balance on that side. Although it’s rare, it has been reported to happen in less than one or two percent of cases. It’s something that you do need to talk to your local physician about.
The other option is actually using a hearing aid. So, even if you have this condition, most people will do quite well with a hearing aid, so surgery isn’t absolutely indicated. It’s more a patient preference.
Hearing loss is one of the most important senses we have. It allows us to interact with our environment and with other people. So, if people do have hearing loss, they often are finding that they’re not interacting with others. They’re really isolating themselves.
And, if you do think you have a hearing loss, you should consult your local audiologist or physician. Often seeing a local family physician or a physiotherapist in conjunction with a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise is also optominal for overall health. Presenter: Dr. Jane Lea, Otolaryngologist, Vancouver, BC