Introduction: Radical mastoidectomy and tympanomastoid obliteration with fat tissue, also called the Rambo operation, is proposed to those patients suffering chronic middle-ear disease, with or without cholesteatoma, who have no useful hearing in an ear which cannot be kept dry despite all conservative treatment.
Methods: We analysed retrospectively a series of 46 patients operated upon in our department. Information recorded included the surgical indications, surgical observations, post-operative care and complications. All patients were invited to comment on their long term anatomical and functional results and to express their degree of satisfaction with the procedure.
Results: Recurrent infectious episodes were observed in seven cases. Residual cholesteatoma were observed in three cases. After treatment, these patients did not present with further complications. One case presented with multiple episodes of infection with recurrences of cholesteatoma and finally had the obliterated cavity transformed into an open cavity again. For most of the patients, in the long term (i.e. one to 23 years post-operatively (mean eight years)), the operation resulted in a dry ear, ending the need for frequent consultations to clean and disinfect diseased ears or open cavities.
Conclusion: Obliteration of the tympanomastoid cavity, as proposed by Tom Rambo, shortens considerably the post-operative care period, in comparison with canal wall down mastoidectomy, and is therefore indicated if no serviceable hearing can be expected. In the long term, the rate of complications is low and patients are satisfied.