What is a labyrinthectomy?

A labyrinthectomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to treat vertigo if you have very little hearing in the affected ear. This is a last resort option when it is determined that a hearing aid will not be effective in helping you hear more clearly.

The goal of the procedure is to completely destroy the vestibular end organs to eliminate vestibular function. This will relieve the symptoms associated with vertigo.

Who is a candidate for a labyrinthectomy?

Patients who have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease that has not been effectively treated with more conservative treatments are potential candidates for a labyrinthectomy. You must also fit the following criteria to be considered for this procedure:

  • You have failed more conservative treatment for three to six months
  • You have severe hearing loss in the affected ear
  • You are experiencing severe disability related to the disease

Risks associated with a labyrinthectomy

A labyrinthectomy is an option only when more conservative treatments have failed. 

Complications associated with a labyrinthectomy can be severe and include:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak
  • Complete loss of hearing on the affected ear
  • Facial nerve injury
  • Loss of balance function in affected ear
  • Vomiting or nausea 
  • Incomplete procedure that does not eliminate symptoms

What to expect during a labyrinthectomy

A labyrinthectomy is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. 

Your doctor may perform the procedure using the transcanal approach or the transmastoid approach. Most patients have the transcanal approach, while the transmastoid approach is used for patients who have narrow canals or openings.

During either approach, the vestibular end organs are removed. 

Recovery from a labyrinthectomy

After a labyrinthectomy, you will need to be monitored in the hospital for a few days. Your doctor may prescribe medications for nausea and to prevent infection. You will be discharged once your doctor determines you have regained enough balance to care for yourself at home. Some patients may need a cane or walker either temporarily or permanently.

You may need vestibular or balance therapy with a physical therapist in order to more effectively recover your balance.

Results from a labyrinthectomy

Approximately 95 percent of patients experience relief after a labyrinthectomy.

Find an ENT doctor nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you