What are the Risks of Otosclerosis Surgery?

Hearing loss

In approximately one percent (1%) of cases, hearing may be further impaired due to the development of scar tissue, infection, blood vessel spasm, irritation of the inner ear or a leak of inner ear fluid (fistula).

In less than one percent of cases, hearing may be damaged such that a complete hearing loss may occur and one may not be able to benefit from a hearing aid in that ear. Due to this theoretical risk, the poorer hearing ear is usually selected for surgery first.

When further loss of hearing occurs in the operated ear, ear ringing (tinnitus) may be more pronounced. Rarely, re-exploration may be necessary when hearing loss occurs, but time is usually given to allow the ear to heal completely.


Most patients with Otosclerosis experience ear ringing (tinnitus). The amount of tinnitus is not necessarily related to the degree or type of hearing impairment. Following successful stapedectomy, tinnitus is often decreased in proportion to the hearing improvement, but occasionally it may worsen.


Dizziness may occur for a few hours following a stapedectomy and may result in nausea and vomiting. Some unsteadiness is common during the first few postoperative days. Dizziness with sudden head motion may persist for several weeks. On rare occasions, dizziness is prolonged.

Taste Disturbance and Mouth Dryness

Taste disturbance and mouth dryness are not uncommon for a few weeks following surgery. In five percent (5%) of cases, this disturbance may persist.

Eardrum Perforation

A perforation (hole) in the eardrum is an unusual complication of the surgery. It develops in less than one percent (1%) and usually is due to an infection. Fortunately, should this complication occur, the eardrum may heal spontaneously. If healing does not occur spontaneously, surgical repair (myringoplasty) may be required.

Weakness of the Face

Temporary weakness of the face is a very rare complication of stapedectomy. This may occur as the result of an abnormality or swelling of the facial nerve.