Ears are integral to the sense of hearing and also important in balance. Conditions managed include the treatment of recurrent ear infections and otitis media with effusion (glue ear). Children and adults commonly present with ear infections and this can often lead to the development of fluid behind the ear drum (COME/glue ear). This common condition can lead to problems with hearing, learning, speech and language development, balance, sleeping and general development. Investigation will often require a formal hearing assessment and treatment may include surgical correction such as adenoid ablation/coblation or the possibility of ventilation tube (grommet) insertion.
There are many causes for hearing loss at all ages. Thorough work up including examination and audiometry is available through the office. Management can include the fitting of hearing aids or possibly surgery to reconstruct conductive hearing losses.
Hearing aids are developing rapidly with new technology evolving each year. Work up and assessment for likely hearing aid fitting is an integral part of an otolaryngologist and in association with local audiology practices can improve quality of life and function in the school or work place.
Conditions of the ear canal can also lead to significant pain, discomfort and loss of hearing. The treatment of outer ear infection, either bacterial or fungal, often requires the treatment by an otolaryngologist. Diagnostic and microsuction therapy is available in the office with ongoing treatments sometimes needed. Bony narrowing of the ear canal can also predispose to outer ear infection (surfer’s ear) and often requires treatment with drilling of the extra bony growth (exostoses). This treatment may well require operative intervention for correction.
Perforated ear drums often occur with chronic ear disease, trauma or sometimes as a result of previous ventilation tube insertion. These may require repair using myringoplasty or tympanoplasty to return the ear to a water proof organ and may help with hearing restoration. More chronic ear disease may require more aggressive surgery. Mastoidectomy and tympanoplasty is occasionally necessary to treat ongoing ear discharge and/or the development of cholesteatoma.
The sudden development of hearing loss with or without balance disorders is a potential ear, nose and throat emergency and requires urgent investigation and treatment either through the office or by urgent referral to the Christchurch Hospital, Outpatient Department.
Cosmetic deformities of the ears are also treated using otoplasty technique. This is an operation which can be performed under general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic as a day case. This is ideally staged until older childhood or at any stage through adolescence into adulthood.
Tumours of the ear either benign or malignant are treated, often under local anaesthetic as an outpatient procedure.