The goal of University of Chicago Medicine's otology and neurotology experts is to treat your condition effectively and efficiently in order to enhance or restore hearing. We know how important it is to recognize that each patient is unique, so we are committed to providing individualized treatment plans that are tailored to complement the cause and severity of your hearing loss. By combining medical and surgical interventions, we offer the best outcomes and improve your quality of life. Treatment may include one or more of the following:

Medical Treatments

There are some ear conditions that can be improved with medication alone. If you have frequent ear infections, antibiotic pills or drops are a standard treatment option. Steroids can also be used to treat inflammation or sudden hearing loss. If needed, medicine can also be delivered directly to the middle ear by a trained clinician.

Hearing Aids

If you have hearing loss but still have a good speech understanding score, a hearing aid can be used to amplify sound in your ear and improve overall hearing. These devices are available in several styles depending on the severity of hearing loss, ranging from completely-in-the-canal hearing aids to behind-the-ear devices. Our audiologists will help you select the best hearing aid, show you how to wear it, ensure it fits comfortably and program it to your specific pattern of hearing loss.

Cochlear Implants

When hearing aids are no longer beneficial, a cochlear implant can help restore hearing. Cochlear implants are unique, electronic devices. Unlike a hearing aid that only amplifies sound, an implant actually transmits an electrical signal directly to the inner ear (cochlea). After one of our skilled surgeons will implant the internal transmitter, and with regular listening therapy and practice, you can dramatically improve your hearing and comprehension. The goal is to allow you to improve your ability to communicate with others and it can result in a remarkable improvement in quality of life. Learn more about cochlear implants.

Implantable Hearing Devices

In addition to cochlear implants, we offer other implantable hearing devices that may help treat your specific hearing loss. These implantable devices send sound vibrations to the inner ear and bypass damaged areas of the middle ear. Implantable hearing devices we offer:

  • Bone-anchored devices can be implanted directly under the skin or are transcutaneous.
  • The Bonebridge, a new device we offer, consists of a special bone vibrator that is implanted completely under the skin.

Surgical Procedures

If your hearing loss is the cause of extensive damage to middle or outer ear, our surgeons perform procedures that reconstruct your ear for better hearing:

  • Ossicular Chain Reconstruction (Ossiculoplasty): When one or more middle ear bones are damaged or missing, we can replace the bones using prosthetics that mimic your natural hearing bones and improve overall hearing.
  • Tympanoplasty: A perforated eardrum that has not closed on its own can be surgically closed to enhance your hearing and prevent infection. During a tympanoplasty, we place graft materials (such as cartilage or fascia) under the eardrum to promote healing of the perforation.
  • Stapedotomy: For patients with otosclerosis (a condition where the third hearing bone, the stapes bone, stops vibrating correctly), a stapedotomy offers a solution by removing the existing stapes bone and replacing it with a prosthetic device.
  • Aural Atresia Repair: For adults or children who were born without an ear canal or developed severe narrowing of the ear canal, an aural atresia repair can restore the natural sound to the middle ear. This procedure involves creating a new eardrum with fascia tissue and a skin graft to create a new ear canal.

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Hearing Loss