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A mastoidectomy is surgery to remove cells in the hollow, air-filled spaces in the skull behind the ear. These cells are called mastoid air cells.


This surgery used to be a common way to treat an infection in mastoid air cells. In most cases, the condition was caused by an ear infection that spread to the bone in the skull.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Mastoidectomy may be used to treat:


Risks may include:

  • Changes in taste
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss
  • Infection that persists or keeps returning
  • Noises in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Weakness of the face


Chole RA, Sudhoff HH. Chronic otitis media, mastoiditis, and petrositis. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 139.

Lambert PR. Mastoidectomy. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 142.

Review Date: 8/14/2014
Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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