by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
I have had hearing problems since I was in my 20s. I have had surgery for otosclerosis 3 times in my left ear and 2 in the right.
Another lady responded:
I have been diagnosed with otosclerosis. My left ear is worse than the right. Until now, nobody ever mentioned that this surgery might not be permanent. If the bone is just going to grow back, what is the advantage of the surgery? I can still hear somewhat–should I just wait until my hearing is completely gone before pursuing it?
Let me explain a bit about otosclerosis. There are two basic kinds of otosclerosis. If it just affects your middle ear—basically spongy bone overgrows the stapes (stirrup) and fixes it to the oval window so it can’t vibrate freely–you have the more common kind of otosclerosis. This kind gives you a conductive loss. This is also the kind of otosclerosis that surgery can fix.
If the spongy bone growth invades the cochlea, you not only have a conductive loss, you also end up with a sensorineural hearing loss. Cochlear otosclerosis can not be fixed by surgery like the middle ear variety can.
Unfortunately, as you have discovered, this surgery isn’t always a permanent fix. This is because often the spongy bone continues to overgrow the stapes and consequently eventually you need the operation all over again.
In some people, this occurs quite rapidly. In others it takes a long time. I think a lot depends on what stage you are in your life. In women, otosclerosis often flares up at puberty, pregnancy and menopause. So for example, if you had a stapedectomy to fix your otosclerosis, and then got pregnant, you might undo it all in short order. However, if you had the surgery after menopause, you might have good results for the rest of your life.