This procedure is performed in patients with Meniere’s disease, who suffer from unremitting vertigo attacks and who have “unaidable hearing” in the affected ear. This means that the hearing in the ear is too poor to benefit much from a hearing aid, due to a lack of speech recognition. This surgery destroys the entire labyrinth, or inner ear for balance. Although the cochlea is left untouched, all the hearing is lost in the ear. It eliminates all Meniere’s attacks from the operated ear.

The operation is performed in hospital under general anesthesia through an incision behind the ear. A mastoidectomy is performed; the landmarks of the inner ear are identified and then removed surgically with a drill. The patient stays in the hospital for 1-3 days for supportive care and physical therapy to regain balance. A cane or walker is sometimes required for a while after the surgery. Vestibular and balance therapy are usually performed after discharge to allow the patient to recover balance back to normal as quickly as possible.

Possible Complications

  • Infection: this is rare. Antibiotics are used post-operatively.
  • Facial Nerve Injury: This is extremely rare. Facial nerve monitoring is performed.
  • Imbalance: The surgery stops vertigo attacks but can worsen balance. This is temporary in most young and active patients but can be a problem in elderly, inactive patients or those with other conditions that cause balance problems.
  • Hearing loss is a known and expected outcome and not a complication. The effects of single sided deafness can be troubling