Jodi Grice knows just how life-changing a second opinion can be. That’s because four years ago, when she saw her doctor about the gradual hearing loss she was experiencing, Jodi was told a hearing aid was her only option. Fortunately, a friend suggested she go to CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat for a second opinion. Thanks to that office visit and the treatment that followed, today she has normal hearing in both ears.
After Richard Gillespie, M.D., of CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat examined Jodi and reviewed results of her audiogram, he diagnosed her with otosclerosis, a condition of abnormal growth in the bones of the middle ear which keeps the stapes bone from moving. For the ear to work properly, this bone must move freely.
Middle-aged Caucasian women are most at risk for otosclerosis. The condition is less common in people of Japanese and South American decent and is rare in African Americans. Heredity and pregnancy can play a part in the onset of otosclerosis, as well as long-term consumption of well water, which contains no fluoride.
“Jodi had a classic case of otosclerosis.” said Dr. Gillespie. “Although there are no distinctive symptoms for this condition, hearing loss, pressure and ringing in the ear usually lead a patient to seek help. Only a clinical exam and hearing test can determine if otosclerosis is the diagnosis.” If the patient is suffering from mild hearing loss, continued observation and a hearing aid may be recommended; however, the most effective method of restoring or improving hearing is a surgical procedure called stapedectomy.
Jodi was a prime candidate for surgery and underwent a stapedectomy to correct the condition.This outpatient surgical procedure is performed with general anesthesia. Using an operating microscope and entering through the ear canal, the stapes bone is removed and replaced with a prosthetic device. This allows the bones of the middle ear to resume movement and restore hearing. If both ears require the procedure, the one with the most hearing loss is operated on first and surgery is performed on the other at a later date.
What to Expect After Surgery
Patients usually return home the day of the surgery. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed. Some patients experience dizziness the first few days after surgery and usually feel like their ear is plugged up or full of fluid. Patients need to keep water out of the operated ear, but normal activities can be resumed two weeks after surgery. Hearing improvement can occur within two to six weeks after the stapedectomy. In Jodi’s case, she recovered more quickly than normal.
“I experienced no pain or motion sickness afterwards.” said Jodi. “About a week after the surgery my ear opened up and I could hear. I remember it well because it was Christmas day and the sound of my children’s laughter was an incredible gift.” About a year later, she underwent a successful stapedectomy on her other ear.
Jodi referred her brother, Rob Nastase, to CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat because he was also experiencing hearing loss. Rob had the same condition as Jodi and underwent surgery on his left ear. Unlike Jodi, he experienced some pain and dizziness for two to three weeks afterward, but the surgery was still a success.
“I was literally deaf. Dr. Gillespie allowed me and my brother to hear again.” said Jodi. “He completely changed our lives.”