OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Dr. Michelle Facer, DO

"Do You Hear
What I Hear?"
Reconstructive Ear Surgery

Michelle Facer, DO
Northern Pines Ear, Nose & Throat
Eau Claire

Hearing loss can greatly affect quality of life and how you function on a day-to-day basis.

The ringing of a telephone, a bird singing or a loved one's laugh may be missed if you suffer from hearing loss. The good news is that some types of hearing loss can be improved and allow you to again enjoy the rich sounds surrounding you.
There are two types of hearing loss, sensorineural and conductive. Sensorineural hearing loss typically results in a loss of nerve function and can only be improved with hearing aids, or in profound cases, with cochlear implants. Conductive hearing losses, on the other hand, can be repaired surgically. Diagnostic testing by an audiologist and an examination by an Otorhinolaryngologist ( Ear, Nose and Throat physician) can help to delineate the type and extent of hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss results when sound is not conducted through the ear in a normal manner. This can occur when the eardrum does not vibrate normally or when the middle ear bones (ossicles) do not pass sound vibrations on to the middle ear. The most common example of the eardrum not vibrating normally occurs when there is fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear. This is very common in children who sometimes have tubes placed to correct the problem.

If there is a hole in the eardrum or tympanic membrane, sound cannot be conducted normally. This can result from trauma or chronic ear infections. Besides a hearing loss, other symptoms associated with a perforated eardrum include: pain, pressure or discomfort in the ear; drainage from the ear; and ringing in the ear. Surgery, commonly known as a myringoplasty or tympanoplasty, results in the creation of a new eardrum (graft) and thus improves hearing. The procedure allows the patient to swim and get the ear wet while bathing. The graft is made from a piece of your own tissue that is used to patch the hole in the eardrum.


If the conductive hearing loss is a result of a problem with the middle ear bones or ossicles, this can be surgically repaired as well. The ossicles consist of the three smallest bones in the body: the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). Common causes of ossicular problems include chronic ear infections, abnormal tissue growth (cholesteatoma), or abnormal bone growth. Sometimes, there is a strong family history of hearing loss (otosclerosis), and family members may not be aware that the hearing can be surgically restored.

During surgery, a microscope is used to identify the source of the problem. A prosthesis is then selected which will replace one or more of the damaged or missing middle ear bones. Occasionally, a laser is used to facilitate the process. These procedures are usually performed on an outpatient basis. Hearing results are almost always excellent and allow the patient to function without the need for a hearing aid. Within six weeks, patients typically hear better than they have in years. In fact, chances are, you will now be able to enjoy the sounds of music, laughter and conversation.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michelle Facer » 715- 831-3300, Northern Pines Ear, Nose & Throat, Eau Claire. Dr. Facer also sees patients in Cumberland and Shell Lake.