Surgery for Ménière's disease can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Talk with your doctor about surgical options if repeated attempts at less invasive treatment methods have failed to relieve your symptoms.
The cause of
Ménière's disease is unknown, but it may be related to
a fluid imbalance in the inner ear. This fluid (endolymph) is
contained in a part of the inner ear called the endolymphatic sac. Two surgeries may be done:
An endolymphatic shunt is a small tube inserted in the endolymphatic
sac to allow excess fluid (endolymph) to drain. When the excess fluid can drain,
pressure does not build up and
vertigo does not occur.
The effectiveness of this procedure has become controversial, so it
is rarely done. This surgery may cause hearing loss.
In endolymphatic sac decompression, a small amount of bone is removed
from inside the ear. This provides more room for the endolymphatic sac when it
swells with too much fluid. When there is more room for the sac to swell,
pressure inside the inner ear is avoided and vertigo does not develop.
Vestibular nerve section
In vestibular nerve section, the nerve that controls hearing and
balance on the affected side is identified. Then the balance portion of that
nerve is cut, leaving the part of the nerve that controls hearing intact. The part of the nerve that controls hearing is close to the part that controls
balance, so there is a risk of hearing loss in the affected ear.
During the recovery period, the brain adapts to the lack of input
from the ear that was operated on, and normal balance sense usually
returns. Other symptoms of Ménière's disease, such as tinnitus, hearing loss, and fullness in the ear, aren't helped by this surgery. You may need to stay on a low-sodium diet and take diuretics.
Labyrinthectomy removes the
balance center of the inner ear (labyrinth). This nearly always stops vertigo
but also results in total hearing loss in that ear. It is only used
for people who have already lost most of their hearing.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.