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Cartilage has shown promise as a graft material to close perforations in the tympanic membrane (TM), particularly in cases of advanced middle ear pathology. Although it is similar to fascia, its more rigid quality tends to resist resorption and retraction. However, it is this rigid quality that has led many to anticipate a significant conductive hearing loss when using cartilage to reconstruct the TM. Because little has been reported in the literature comparing hearing results using cartilage with results using other grafting materials, this retrospective study was conducted to compare the hearing results of patients with cartilage tympanoplasty with results in patients who underwent revision tympanoplasty using perichondrium. Both series of patients had undergone type I tympanoplasty, and the middle ear pathology was considered to be similar between the two groups. TM closure was achieved in all 22 patients undergoing cartilage reconstruction, but three of the 20 patients undergoing perichondrium reconstruction had a recurrent perforation during the follow-up period (approximately 1 year). The average pre- and postoperative puretone average air-bone gap (PTA-ABG) was 21.1 dB and 6.8 dB for the cartilage group and 17.9 dB and 7.7 dB for the perichondrium group, respectively. These gains in hearing were statistically significant (P < 0.001 in each case), but there was no statistically significant difference in hearing results between the two groups. Analysis of the PTA-ABG as a function of percentage of TM reconstructed showed no statistically significant difference in hearing results due to percentage of cartilage used. These results indicate that cartilage tympanoplasty offers the possibility of a rigorous TM reconstruction with excellent postoperative hearing results.

(C) The American Laryngological, Rhinological & Otalogical Society, Inc.