Your Home Care after Labyrinthectomy
What is Labyrinthectomy?
During a Labyrinthectomy, your surgeon
removes a portion, or all of the inner ear,
thereby removing both the balance and
hearing function from the affected ear.
The most common reason for
performing a labyrinthectomy is to treat
Meniere’s disease that has not responded
to other treatments. Additionally, other
forms of inner ear damage may be
treated with a labyrinthectomy. This
surgery will be done only if you already
have near-total or total hearing loss in
your affected ear.
What to Expect After Surgery
ξ You will be in the hospital for 2-3 days.
ξ You can expect to come out of surgery with an incision behind or above your ear, and a
big dressing over your ear and head.
ξ Common side effects include:
o Numbness around your incision which may last for months
o Surgery stops vertigo attacks, but you will have difficulty with balance for 4-6
weeks after surgery while your other ear learns to compensate. Your surgeon may
have the physical therapist work with you to help manage your symptoms
o You will not have hearing in your surgical ear.
o You may notice a change in how things taste for a few months.
ξ You will come back for a follow up visit in about 5 weeks.
ξ Your large ear dressing will be removed the day after surgery. The incision behind your
ear is closed with dissolvable stiches.
ξ The incision can be exposed to water 2 days after surgery. Avoid direct shower spray on
your incision and do not go swimming until the incision is completely healed.
ξ Check your incision for any signs of infection, including:
o Redness spreading from the incision
o Increased swelling
o Increased tenderness
o Warmth at the incision site
o Pus-like drainage from the incision
ξ You will be off work for 4-6 weeks, depending on what kind of work you do. Your
doctor will give you specific instructions about returning to work.
ξ Avoid heights and ladders for at least 1 month or until you have significant balance
ξ No jogging, aerobics, contact sports or lifting more than 25 pounds for at least 4 weeks
after the surgery.
ξ Keep your head raised at least 30⁰ when you lie down for the first 1-2 weeks. It is best
not to lie on the side of your surgery until your doctor clears it.
ξ Do not blow your nose for 1 week. After a week, if you must blow your nose, do it
gently, one side at a time, to avoid pressure on your ears.
ξ For the first week following surgery, open your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Do
not hold back a sneeze.
ξ It is usually about 4 weeks before you will be able to travel by air.. Check with your
doctor before you do.
ξ Avoid constipation and straining in the bathroom. You will be given a stool softener to
use while you are taking the pain pills.
ξ Do not drive or drink alcohol while taking any pain pills.
When to Call your Doctor
ξ Bleeding that soaks a gauze dressing in 10 minutes or less and continues for one hour.
ξ Fever greater than 100.5⁰ F by mouth, checked 4 hours apart.
ξ Pain not relieved by pain medication
ξ Any signs of infection
ξ Weakness of the face or facial droop
Who Do I Call?
ξ If you have questions or problems once you are home, please call the ENT clinic at
(608) 263-6190 or toll free 800-323-8942, weekdays from 8:00-5:00. The clinic RN will
return your call.
ξ After hours or weekends, the paging operator will answer the clinic number and will have
the ENT doctor on call return a call to you.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 4/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7867.