Although the chorda tympani nerve (CTN) is frequently damaged during tympanoplasty, little attention has been given to the patients' symptoms and taste function.
To investigate patients' symptoms and the functional recovery of taste after surgery using electrogustometry (EGM).
Analysis of 163 ears of 156 patients who underwent middle ear surgery from April 1997 through December 1999. There were 18 ears with noninflammatory diseases, 80 with chronic otitis media, and 65 with cholesteatoma. The patients' taste functions were examined 2 days before surgery and 2 weeks and 6 months after surgery.
Main Outcome Measures
The taste disturbance before and after middle ear surgery and the relationship between age and the recovery rate of CTN function.
Two weeks after surgery, the mean EGM threshold was elevated in all groups regardless of preservation or section of the CTN. Numbness in the tongue and taste disturbance were more frequently found in patients with preservation of CTN than in those with section of the CTN (P = .008 and P = .001, respectively). In patients with preservation of the CTN, 6 months after surgery, the recovery rate of EGM threshold was 83% in those aged 20 years or younger (P = .008 compared with the 2 older groups), 53% in the those aged 21 to 40 years, and 44% in those aged 41 to 60 years.
Age is an important factor for recovery of taste function after middle ear surgery, which is useful information when explaining complications to patients.