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8 Whilst the eyes demand many kinds of surgical treatment, there are but few affections of the ears which are dealt with by this branch of medicine. It does happen, however, whether from birth, or later when there has been ulceration and the ear becomes filled up by scarring, that there is no passage in the ear and so it cannot hear. When this[p. 361] is the case, we must try with a probe whether the part is filled up deeply, or whether there is merely a superficial agglutination. For if deeply, there is no yielding to pressure made on the probe; if superficial, the probe enters freely. The former should not be touched, lest, where there is no hope of success, a spasm may be set up, and from that may follow danger of death. The latter is easily treated. For where the passage should be, either one of the caustic medicaments is to be applied, or an opening made with the cautery, or the place may even be cut through with a scalpel. After it has been laid open, and the ulceration has been cleaned, a quill is to be inserted, smeared with a medicament to induce a scar, and the same medicament applied around, until the skin has healed round the quill; by this means when the quill has been removed, the faculty of hearing follows. But where the ears, in a man for instance, have been pierced and have become offensive, it is enough to pass a red hot needle quickly though the hole in order to blister its margins superficially or even to produce the same effect by a caustic; then afterwards to put on applications to clean the place and later what will make the flesh grow there and induce a scar. But if the hole is enlarged, as is usually the case with those who have worn heavy ear-rings, the rest of the lobule should be cut through; then the edges above made raw with a scalpel, and the wound sutured, and agglutinating medicaments put on. A third method, where there has been some mutilation, is to patch, and since this can be done in the case of the lips and nostrils as well, and the procedure is the same, the description too should be given at the same time.
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