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What Is A Stapedectomy?

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/25/2009

This article discusses the condition known as Otosclerosis and describe the prescribed treatment known as a Stapedectomy.

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    What Is A Stapedectomy?

    A stapedectomy is a straightforward procedure aimed at improving the hearing of someone with “middle ear deafness”. It is caused by the condition called Otosclerosis.

    Otosclerosis is a genetic condition that affects at least 1-3% of a given population. It can be inherited, but commonly it can be diagnosed in someone with any previous family history. The gradual hearing loss starts to occur from the early twenties, and gradually worsens. Otosclerosis is specific to the middle ear, and only affects one of three bones located there.

    When sound waves reach the middle ear, the three bones located there – the incus, malleus, and stapes – vibrate to transmit the waves to the inner ear so it can be interpreted as sounds by the brain. Otosclerosis affects the stapes, and causes a bony formation to grow around this ear bone. The calcified bony formation restricts the movement of the stapes, and as sound waves are transmitted, the stapes is reduced in its ability to vibrate. This eventually leads to less sound transmitted to the inner ear and hearing loss. The gradual hearing loss occurs as more calcified material is deposited onto the stapes making it rigid and impossible to transmit vibrations.

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    Before The Procedure

    A stapedectomy is not performed on anyone with a sore throat or a recent cold, as this can cause an infection in the ear. The patient will meet with their doctor to review if the surgery should be completed under local or general anaesthesia, and this will depend on the circumstances regarding each case.

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    How the Procedure Is Carried Out

    A stapedectomy is a straightforward procedure that was first performed in the late 1950’s. It involves making a cut into the ear drum to expose the bones of the middle ear. In simple terms, the surgeon will use a laser to burn away the calcified material along with the stapes and its tendon. When all of the stapes has been removed a small hole is left at the previous point of attachment, a prosthetic stapes is inserted next to the other middle ear bones and held firmly with tissue. The ear drum is then sealed back into place.

    This procedure is used in the cases of Otosclerosis because it has such a high success rate. At least 90% of people who suffer from hearing loss or deafness will have improved hearing.


    Web Source: Mr J. A. Lavy FRCS, Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital . "Stapedectomy, treatment for Otosclerosis" 2009. Available: