Treating Meniere’s Disease: Surgery

Meniere’s disease affects the inner ear. It causes problems with balance and hearing. Treatment often involves medicines and lifestyle changes. But severe Meniere’s disease may not respond to these treatments. In this case, your doctor may recommend surgery. If surgery is the best option for you, your doctor will tell you more about it. This includes how to prepare and what to expect during and after the procedure.

Surgical procedures

The following are procedures that might be done. Your doctor can discuss these and other options with you.

  • Endolymphatic sac decompression or shunt. Pressure on a structure in the inner ear called the endolymphatic sac is thought to play a role in Meniere’s disease. During surgery, a small amount of bone is removed from around the sac. Tubing may be placed in the sac. This may help relieve pressure and reduce symptoms.

  • Vestibular neurectomy. The nerve from the balance portion of the ear is cut. This prevents the brain from receiving signals that trigger a vertigo attack. This affects the ability of that ear to regulate balance. In a short time, though, the brain adjusts to using just one ear for balance.

  • Labyrinthectomy. The entire balance canal is removed from the affected ear. The ear can no longer regulate balance. The brain can usually adjust to one ear regulating balance. So balance can return to normal. But all hearing in that ear will be lost. So this procedure is most often done only in people with little or no hearing in the affected ear.

Risks and possible complications of Meniere’s disease surgery

All surgery has risks. The risks of inner ear surgery include:

  • Damage to hearing

  • Possible worsening of balance problems

  • Facial droop

  • Spinal fluid leak

Your doctor can discuss risks and benefits of surgery with you in more detail.