Otology & Neurotology

The Otology & Neurotology teams at UI Health are among Chicago's experts in treating a number of diseases of the ear, such as chronic ear infections and hearing loss. Our specialists also address dizziness, balance disorders, facial nerve disorders, and perform surgery for implants that resolve hearing loss, including cochlear implants, and for skull base tumors.

Surgical Treatments

Damage to the middle ear can cause ear infection, draining ears, and hearing loss. Hearing difficulties also may be related to the inner ear as a result of years working in a noisy workplace, getting older, sudden hearing loss due to inflammation, or hereditary factors.  

The Otology & Neurotology teams at UI Health provide the following surgical treatments to resolve these issues:  

Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid
Also referred to as an acoustic osseointegrated implant (AOI) or an osseointegrated bone conduction device (OBCD), the bone-anchored hearing aid is a device that can help people with hearing loss related to the middle ear bones on either one or both ears. The hearing aid transmits sounds to a screw-like implant that is placed in the skull. The sounds then are transmitted to the hearing nerve, bypassing the middle ear bones to enable hearing.  

Cochlear Implantation
A cochlear implant is a device that restores hearing by directly stimulating the hearing nerve in the inner ear (cochlea). Patients with hearing loss related to damage to the inner ear usually do well with hearing aids. When the hearing loss is extremely severe and hearing aids no longer help, patients can undergo this operation, which usually is performed by a neurotologist.  

The mastoid is an area of bone behind the ear canal and middle ear space. It usually is sponge-like and filled with pockets of air. A mastoidectomy refers to removing the tissue, similar to bone removal. A mastoidectomy can be performed alone or alongside the repair of ear drum (tympanoplasty) and can help with recurrent infections of the ear or with cholesteatoma (skin that has grown into the bone).

Ear Tube Insertion (Myringotomy & Tympanostomy)
Children with frequent ear infections (recurrent acute otitis media) can benefit from tubes. The tubes - often called pressure equalization (PE) tubes - are inserted into the eardrum to equalize pressure. In the procedure, a small incision (myringotomy) is made in the ear drum, and then the tube is placed in the incision (tympanostomy).  

Stapedotomy is a specific operation used to treat a condition call otosclerosis. In otosclerosis, hearing loss is related to the third ear bone, or "stapes," not being able to move. In this procedure, the ear drum is lifted like in a tympanoplasty, the stapes middle ear bone is removed, and an opening is created into the inner ear. A prosthesis is then placed to reconnect the ear bones to the inner ear.  

Tympanoplasty term describes a surgery involving the ear drum. Most often, tympanoplasty refers to repairing an ear drum hole/perforation; the perforation is usually the result of previous infections, trauma, or ear tubes. In surgery, we lift the ear drum up, and place a repair - usually a graft from the patient's own body of either cartilage from the ear or the lining of muscle - under the drum and place the lid back down.  

Surgery for Acoustic Neuromas
An acoustic neuroma, also called a vestibular schwannoma, is a small benign (non-cancerous) tumor of the hearing nerve in the skull. These tumors are not life-threatening, and they grow slowly. They can be treated in multiple ways, including observation, surgery, or radiation therapy (stereotactic radiosurgery).

Microsurgical Resection of Acoustic Neuromas
This is an operation performed to remove a tumor of the hearing nerve within the skull. Often, this operation is performed by a team of surgeons, including an otolaryngologist/neurotologist and a neurosurgeon. There are many different types of this operation, depending upon the way the tumor is surgically accessed.