Key Points about Labyrinthectomy

  • A labyrinthectomy is a procedure used to treat vertigo in patients with severe symptoms who have failed on conservative treatments.
  • A labyrinthectomy will eliminate the ear's balancing and hearing capabilities, so it is used as a last resort option for Meniere's disease.
  • Risks associated with a labyrinthectomy include infection, facial nerve injury, nausea, loss of balance, or cerebrospinal fluid.
  • During the procedure, your doctor will remove areas of the ear that control balance.
  • You will need to stay in the hospital one to three days after surgery for monitoring. Once you are discharged, you may need a cane or walker to move around. Your doctor will also recommend physical therapy to help you regain your balance.


A labyrinthectomy is a procedure used to treat severe Meniere’s disease.

Meniere's disease is an inner ear condition that causes vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and feeling of pressure in the inner ear.

During the surgery, your ENT surgeon will remove the balance end organs so the brain will no longer receive signals to sense changes in motion or gravity. This will eliminate any symptoms of vertigo.

Candidates for a labyrinthectomy

Your doctor will evaluate your case and ensure more conservative treatments have been unable to relieve your symptoms.

While a labyrinthectomy is highly effective in relieving symptoms from Meniere’s disease, it is only used when you have severe vertigo attacks and hearing loss.

Risks associated with a labyrinthectomy

Complications that could arise during or after a labyrinthectomy include:

  • Infection
  • Nerve injury - while rare, patients have reported facial nerve injury after labyrinthectomy
  • Loss of balance - in older, inactive patients, a labyrinthectomy can cause balance problems
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • An incomplete procedure that does not eliminate symptoms

Preparing for a labyrinthectomy

In preparation for surgery, your doctor and care team will outline guidelines you should follow to ensure a successful recovery. Guidelines may include:

Stop taking medication that may interfere with the surgery or recovery, such as blood thinners. Talk to your doctor about what medications you are taking so he or she can advise you what and when to stop taking specific medications.

  • Stop smoking
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery
  • Arrange your home in a way to be able to get around it easily
  • Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital

Expectations during a labyrinthectomy

A labyrinthectomy is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting.

During the surgery, your ENT surgeon will remove the area of the inner ear that manages balance.

There are two main types of approaches that may be used to perform a labyrinthectomy.

  • Transcanal approach - a transcanal labyrinth comedy is the most common approach
  • Transmastoid approach - patients who have narrow canals may be candidates for the transmastoid approach

Recovery from a labyrinthectomy

The surgery takes approximately two hours. You will remain in the hospital for monitoring for a day or more after the surgery.

During recovery, your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent infection and help manage nausea.

You will be discharged when you are able to care for yourself at home. You may need a cane or walker to manage your balance after surgery.

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you restore your balance after surgery.

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