The stapes are the third of three small bones in the middle ear and the one closest to the inner ear. Because of its form, it’s sometimes called the stirrup.

While it’s the smallest bone of the body, it has the significant role of translating movement from the eardrum to fluids in the inner ear, making sound waves to be changed into nerve impulses that are translated into the brain.

When the stapes stops working

Otosclerosis is an abnormal growth of further bone around the stapes. The growth makes the stapes to be frozen in place so they can’t vibrate as they should, leading to hearing loss. Otosclerosis develops slowly, and regularly in both ears and can run as a genetic trait in families.

The Procedure

Through a type of surgery called stapedectomy, a surgeon removes all or part of the original stapes bone and replaces it with a mock device. The outcome allows sound waves to be sent once more to the inner ear for hearing.

The surgeon carries out the procedure through the ear canal and uses an operating microscope. The eardrum is elevated to expose the middle ear bones. Once the stapes are removed and the artificial device is in place, the eardrum is returned back into position to heal and is held in place by packing material that is later absorbed by the body.

The operation takes about 90 minutes, and most patients are able to return home the same day.

The surgeon uses local anaesthesia to relax the patient but not put them entirely to sleep. Numbing medicine is used in the ear where the surgery itself is done. This approach allows the surgeon to confirm the patient’s hearing at the end of the operation.

The Results

Throughout and immediately after surgery, patients notice better hearing but report that things may not sound normal. Generally, the feeling of fullness in the ear goes away once the packing around the eardrum has been absorbed and fluid drains from the ear. Hearing improvement normally continues over the next three to four months.

Your care team will give you a set of directives to follow after your surgery to make sure the surgical repairs are not harmed.

Usually, 90 out of 100 patients have total success from the surgery, resulting in significantly better hearing. If inner ear functions are normal, the outcome is the restoration of near-normal hearing.

Other outcomes, on average, include:

•       Around seven out of 100 patients recover partial hearing from the surgery.

•       About two out of 100 patients have no change in their hearing level.

•    There is a chance that one out of 100 patients will have worse hearing following the operation.

Other risks or side effects from surgery may include:

•       Changes in taste

•       Vertigo

•       Tinnitus

•       Sensitivity to loud noise

•       Injury or damage to the facial nerve

•       Infection

Alternatives to Surgery

Instead of surgery, some patients and their doctors choose to

•       Monitor the condition through observation and further testing

•       Use a hearing aid to amplify sound

•      Use a medication like sodium fluoride to reduce the progression of hearing loss


Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

Partner Hospitals

Google Review trustpilot