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Suction clearance of ear canal

Before you agree to have your suction clearance of the ear it is important to know all you can about it. The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your ear surgery treatment choices with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.



What is the problem?

Your ear canal is blocked. This may be causing some deafness. It may be hiding something further inside your ear. We cannot examine the deeper parts of your ear because of this blockage.


Infection in the ear canal can block it with debris. Hard earwax can also cause blockage.


What is the ear canal?

The ear canal is the passage that runs from your ear to the eardrum. This part of the ear is called the outer ear. The canal is about 2cm or 3/4 inch long. Behind the eardrum is the middle ear and deeper still is the inner ear. The blockage has stopped us looking deep into your ear canal to see your eardrum. We need to see the eardrum to make sure that it is healthy. Problems with the eardrum or the space behind it may be causing your deafness or other ear troubles.

Suction clearance
Suction clearance 2

What has gone wrong?

The ear canal is narrow and curved and can be easily blocked with wax, dead skin or sometimes by infection. With infection, the skin that lines the ear canal often becomes swollen and sore. A bad blockage will make the hearing go dull.


The aim

We aim to clean away all the material blocking the ear canal. This can be painful if there is infection in the ear. Therefore, it is best carried out under a general anaesthetic. We can normally do your operation as a day case. This means that you come into hospital on the day of your operation and go home the same day.


The benefits

Cleaning out the ear canal will make it easier to treat any infection. It will allow us to examine your eardrum in detail. Deafness due to the blockage will be improved.


Are there any alternatives?

Repeated courses of antibiotics are unlikely to clear an infection in the ear canal when it is full of debris.


What if you do nothing?

The ear will remain blocked and any infection will continue. Your doctor can prescribe more antibiotics for you but they are unlikely to work.


Who should have it done?

People who have ear canals blocked with debris, infection or wax should have a suction clearance.


Who should not have it done?

People who have other medical conditions that would make a general anaesthetic unsafe should not have one.


Author: Mr Robert Ruckley MB. ChB.  F.R.C.S.  Consultant ENT surgeon.

© Dumas Ltd 2006

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