Otosclerosis is a condition where excess bone forms across the membrane that leads into the inner ear, causing gradual hearing loss. In normal hearing, sound travels from the outer ear to the brain through a complex network. The outer ear acts as a tunnel, channeling the sound waves through the ear canal to the eardrum. These sound waves cause a vibration of the eardrum that passes into the middle ear cavity. Within the middle ear the vibrations are conducted through three tiny bones: the malleus, incus and stapes. The base of the stapes, called the footplate, is attached to the membrane-covered window called the oval window which leads to the inner ear. When the stapes vibrates, it moves this thin, flexible window in and out, setting up sound waves in the fluid of the inner ear that sends impulses to the brain. In otoslcerosis, bone begins to form at the anterior portion of the oval window which limits the transmission of sound waves. As the area bone growth expands, hearing slowly declines.
Symptoms & Causes
The most prominent symptom of otosclerosis is gradual hearing loss.
A small percentage of patients will also have dizziness.
Hearing loss often begins between twenty and thirty years of age and can occur either in one or both ears.
The cause of otosclerosis is unknown.
Evidence suggests both a viral and genetic cause.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Our audiologists will obtain the appropriate audiometric testing required to diagnose otosclerosis. Consultation with one of our physicians will confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options included observation, hearing aids, or surgery. Stapedectomy is the surgery performed to correct otosclerosis. The goal of the surgery is to reopen the membrane by removing the bony formation. The surgery is performed via the ear canal with either IV sedation or general anesthesia. During the surgery, the eardrum is lifted to allow access to the middle ear, and the bony formation is removed and replaced by a synthetic prosthesis. Although greater than ninety percent of surgery is successful, one to two percent of patients may experience hearing loss as a result of surgery. Consultation with our physicians and audiologists will help you better understand the extent of your hearing loss and options for treatment.