Tympanic Membrane Perforation

What is Tympanic Membrane Perforation?

There are many potential causes of conductive hearing loss. Tympanic membrane perforation is essentially a hole in the eardrum, which can result from ear infections, injury, or previous surgery such as ventilation tube placement. In addition to conductive hearing loss, eardrum perforations can result in ear infection and drainage (chronic otitis media). The infection is usually treated with antibiotic ear drops. Most patients will need to keep water out of the ear with ear plugs or a cotton ball with Vaseline. 

Figure 1  Right tympanic membrane perforation.

Figure 2  Right tympanic membrane perforation 4 months after surgical repair (from Figure 1).


Hearing aids can be very helpful for patients who desire improved hearing function but who do not desire surgical treatment.


The tympanic membrane perforation can be repaired with a surgical procedure called tympanoplasty. The procedure is an outpatient surgery that takes 30 to 40 minutes. It is performed under local or general anesthesia. The surgery is performed through the ear canal or through an incision behind the ear.

How the Surgery Works

The hole in the eardrum is repaired using the patient’s own tissue called fascia. In some cases, the hearing bones (ossicles) are damaged by previous infection or trauma and can usually be repaired at the same time.

After Surgery Care

Antibiotic ear drops are used in the ear after surgery. Regular activities are started the next day. Patients are typically seen 3 weeks after surgery to ensure proper healing. A hearing test is obtained 1 to 2 months after surgery after the healing process is completed.