Department of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis literally means “hardening of the ears.” The term refers to a condition where bony deposits obstruct the normal transmission of sound through the middle ear. Specifically, the smallest bone in the body, the “stirrup” or stapes, bone is surrounded by a blanket of new, abnormal bone. This prevents it from moving freely and creates a type of hearing loss known as “conductive deafness.”

Otosclerosis usually begins in the thirties, but may occur at any age. Symptoms include gradual hearing loss, which may be intermittent at first. Some people describe the sound as similar to a “broken speaker.” Eventually the loss becomes severe, and may affect both ears.

Fortunately, there is a very effective treatment. An operation, known as a stapedotomy can completely and permanently correct the hearing loss. A laser is used to remove part of the stapes, and an artificial bone, or prosthesis, is used to reconstruct the hearing mechanism. This repair is usually good for a lifetime of excellent hearing.

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