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Otology/Balance Dysfunction

Hearing and balance problems are often inter-related conditions, as part of the inner ear (known as the labyrinth) interacts with other body systems like the eyes, brain and peripheral nerves to maintain balance. Problems within the vestibular (ear) system can cause balance problems, which affect over 2 million people each year.


A balance disorder is a complex condition that causes feelings of unsteadiness, wooziness and sensations of spinning, moving or floating. Some of the most common balance disorders include:

  • Labyrinthitis
  • Meniere's disease
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Vestibular neuritis

Treatment for hearing and balance disorders involves treating the underlying cause of the condition, which may be done through steroids, hearing aids, ear tubes, surgery or other treatments.

Laser Ear Surgery for Tumors and Hearing Loss

Laser ear surgery can treat a wide range of ear conditions with greater precision, less trauma and shorter recovery times than traditional surgery, and is effective in relieving symptoms and restoring hearing in patients of all ages. Using targeted laser energy, your doctor can treat hearing loss caused by otosclerosis or tumors in the ear, such as a cholesteatoma.

Otosclerosis involves the abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear, which prevents structures from functioning properly and can lead to hearing loss. The blocked ear structures are unable to vibrate in response to sound waves and therefore the ear cannot hear. This condition is acquired or hereditary, but may also be accelerated during pregnancy. Treatment for otosclerosis involves a procedure called a stapedectomy to bypass the abnormal bone and allow sound waves to travel through the ear.

A cholesteatoma is a benign skin growth that grows in the middle ear as a result of eardrum perforation by infection or direct trauma, congenial abnormalities, or eustachian tube dysfunction. This tumor may result in fluid leaking from the ear, increased pressure in the ear and eventual hearing loss. It can also break the bones in the middle ear if it grows large enough. Surgical treatment removes the growth and eliminates the risk of infection, while also preserving or restoring any hearing loss caused by the tumor.

In addition, we use Facial Nerve Monitoring to enable us to identify, confirm, and monitor motor nerve function to help reduce the risk of nerve damage. Click here to learn more about Facial Nerve Monitoring.

Transtympanic Injections for Dizziness and Sudden Hearing Loss

Transtympanic steroid injections are an effective, minimally invasive treatment option used for dizziness caused by Meniere's disease and other disorders, as well as for sudden hearing loss to salvage hearing and reduce the risk of long-term damage. There are little to no risks associated with this treatment.

These injections deliver medication to the inner ear in much higher concentrations than can be achieved through oral or IV delivery, and ensure that the medication remains within the ear for full effect. Transtympanic injections are administered in your doctor's office under local anesthesia. After the injection, patients must lie down for approximately 30 minutes to keep the medicine within the inner ear.

Patients may experience mild pain and temporary dizziness after the injection, but these side effects usually go away on their own within a short time. It is important to keep the ear clean and dry for several days after injection. Your doctor will provide you with specific post-operative instructions to ensure the most effective results from this treatment.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aids

A bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is an implantable device used to improve hearing in patients with certain types of hearing loss by stimulating the inner ear through the skull. Approved by the FDA since 1996, this type of hearing aid has been used successfully across the world for over 30 years, providing effective relief for patients of all ages.

BAHAs can be used to improve hearing for patients with less severe cases of conductive or mixed hearing impairment. This type of device is ideal for patients who are not candidates for regular hearing aids because of a physical deformity, frequent ear infections or narrow ear canals. Made up of three different parts, including a titanium screw, a button-like holder (abutment) and the actual hearing aid, a BAHA is surgically implanted behind the ear through a minimally invasive procedure.

This procedure takes an hour to perform on an outpatient basis, using local anesthesia for adults and general anesthesia for children. Patients can return home the same day as their procedure. During the initial procedure, only the titanium screw and abutment are placed, while the hearing aid is implanted during a second procedure three to six months later. This ensures that the titanium becomes integrated into the bone for long-lasting correction with no need for additional treatment.

Your doctor will determine whether or not a BAHA is right for you after a thorough evaluation of your individual conditions.

 

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