Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Diving After Meniere's Surgery?



Question about diving after Meniere's surgery

I have Meniere's Desease. I am having surgery for it that will hopefully work. The surgery involves going through the skull behind the ear, putting a shunt in the inner ear sac and also injecting a fluid toxic to the balance nerve.

I also have a PE tube in my eardrum to help with my abnormally small eustachion tube and trouble equalizing (under water, in airplanes, etc.).

Can I dive after the surgery and/or with the tube in my ear?

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Answer:

Hello :

All divers require functioning eustachian tubes because of the need for equalizing pressure in the middle ears as they descend and ascend in the water. Inability to 'clear' or equalize allows a high risk of damage to your good ear, with the risk of deafness or other nerve damage from barotrauma.

The tube in your ear would also allow water (and bacteria) to enter the middle ear, causing you to be at major risk for infection and caloric vertigo underwater - a major risk for drowning.

Even if your surgery is totally successful, you would be at risk for vertigo underwater from the imbalance of your killed nerve (alternobaric vertigo), again a major risk for drowning.

A last consideration would be the risk of occurrence of inner ear decompression sickness or barotrauma. It would extremely difficult to differentiate symptoms of these injuries from the effects of your surgery. These two conditions might possibly severely disrupt or damage your surgical results.

I am not aware of any studies on problems such as yours but would hesitate to certify you as 'fit to dive', considering all of the caveats listed above - any one of which would be cause to disallow diving. More information on our web site at http://www.scuba-doc.com/entprobs.html .

I hope this is helpful!

Ern Campbell, MD
Scubadoc's Diving Medicine
http://scuba-doc.com

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Thank you very much. I am so disappointed, after all my classes and trip plans, but your "caveats" would be so much worse! I guess I'll just stick to snorkeling, which I do love.