A perforated eardrum means there is a hole in the membrane that separates the outer and inner ear. If the perforation is small, it may heal on its own in several weeks. Larger holes may require surgical repair, called a tympanoplasty. In both cases, hearing usually returns.
The rate of successful repair of a hole in the eardrum is typically 90 to 95 percent. It is better if the ear is dry and uninfected. If a patient has already had one surgery that did not work, the success rate of further surgery is lower. Some patients have such poor Eustachian tube function that complete repair is impossible.