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Side view of head showing ear and mastoid bone.

Mastoidectomy can remove infected bone and growths from the middle ear. But it may not always improve your hearing in the affected ear. The mastoid bone can be felt behind the ear. During surgery, you will receive general anesthesia. Mastoidectomy may take 1–3 hours. It may be done along with a tympanoplasty or an ossicular chain reconstruction.

Cross section through mastoid bone and middle ear showing cholesteatoma.

Infection and Growths

The mastoid bone contains cells that hold air (called air cells). Problems occur when an ear infection spreads to the air cells. Skin cells may also build up in an infected ear. These skin cells can form a growth (called a cholesteatoma). This growth can destroy nearby bone. If not treated, mastoid bone problems may cause deafness, facial nerve damage, dizziness, brain infection, or even death.

Cross section through mastoid bone and middle ear showing bone after cholesteatoma removed.

Removing Mastoid Bone

To reach the mastoid bone, your surgeon makes an incision behind the ear. Or he or she goes through the ear canal. Both approaches may be used. Infected bone and any growths are removed. Then the incision is closed with stitches. There are many types of mastoidectomy. Each type is based on the amount of infected bone.

Online Medical Reviewer: Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/8/2014
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