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Tympanic Plexus Neurectomy for Intractable Otalgia.

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to analyze whether tympanic plexus neurectomy is a successful surgical option in patients with intractable otalgia.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective single institution study from the experience of two surgeons was conducted.

METHODS: Records of adult patients with intractable unilateral otalgia of likely glossopharyngeal origin were reviewed, with institutional review board approval. Patients who responded to a tympanic plexus block were considered for tympanic neurectomy. Twelve patients (13 ears) underwent the procedure. Surgical outcomes and the presence of persistent otalgia were evaluated.

RESULTS: Persistent otalgia was present for 16.7 months ± 8.6 standard-error-of-the-mean months prior to an intervention. Narcotic medication was used in 41.7% of patients prior to surgery. Patients received tympanic plexus blocks (median: 1, range 1-3) prior to tympanic neurectomy to evaluate candidacy for surgery. Intractable otalgia resolved in six of 13 ears (46.2%) after one surgery, with an average follow-up of 25.5 months. A significant reduction in pain occurred in two of 13 ears (15.4%) after an initial surgery. One patient received no benefit from the initial procedure. Revision surgery occurred in four ears, resulting in pain relief in three of four cases. All together, nine of 13 ears received complete resolution of pain, and an additional two of 13 ears received partial benefit using our algorithm for treatment of intractable otalgia of tympanic plexus origin.

CONCLUSION: Intractable otalgia treated with tympanic neurectomy is a viable treatment option in cases of failed medical management. These findings provide important information that will aid clinicians in counseling chronic otalgia patients.


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