The ear is divided into three major components: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear comprises the pinna and the ear canal. The middle ear is an air-filled cavity which consists of an eardrum and three small, interconnected bones called the ossicles which are hammer, anvil, and stirrup. The ossicles are responsible for transmitting sounds to the cochlea which enables hearing. The inner ear is in the bony labyrinth and contains structures which are key to several senses: the semicircular canals, which enable balance and eye tracking when moving; the utricle and saccule, which enable balance when stationary; and the cochlea, which enables hearing. Middle ear surgery is used to treat a variety of conditions in any of these parts.
Most ear surgery is microsurgical, performed using an operating microscope to enable the surgeon to view the very small structures of the ear. Types of middle ear surgery include a stapedectomy to repair hearing loss by replacing a middle ear bone with a prosthesis, a tympanoplasty to repair or reconstruct the eardrum after perforation, a myringotomy to drain ear fluid, preventing infection and normalizing middle ear pressure, and surgery to remove a middle ear tumor.
Minimally invasive laser surgery for middle ear procedures is increasing in popularity. Laser surgery reduces trauma, the risk of excessive bleeding and allows the surgeon to operate more easily on hard to reach places in the middle ear.