Ear & Hearing

About Perforated Eardrum

The tympanic membrane or eardrum is a thin sheet of tissue that separates the external ear from the middle ear. It is an important part of the design of the ear that maximises the transmission of sound to the inner ear.

A perforation in the eardrum most commonly forms after infections, usually from the middle ear. It may sometimes occur with prolonged or severe infection of the external ear, from direct injury (e.g with a foriegn body) or from erosion by cholesteatoma.

A patient with an eardrum perforation may notice impairment of hearing, and may have recurrent or persistent discharge from the ears. He or she may also be predisposed to recurrent ear infections when the affected ear is exposed to water e.g. swimming.

While small eardrum perforations from direct trauma may heal and close up spontaneously, those that occur due to infection are usually permanent. Surgical repair of the tympanic membrane (myringoplasty) is a treatment option for a chronically-perforated eardrum. After myringoplasty, the barrier between the external and middle ear is re-established. There is no longer the problem of ear discharge and water precautions are no longer required. In some patients, hearing may also be improved.