World Class Treatment In Your Hometown

Dr. Robert Yawn

Dr. Yawn

Education & Training:

Medical School

Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)


Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, TN)


Otology, Neurotology, and Lateral Skull Base Surgery

The Otology Group of Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN)

Board Certification

American Board of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery

Social Media

Google   Twitter


Conditions I Treat:

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is exceptionally common. You can have hearing loss from nerve damage (sensorineural hearing loss) or from issues with the eardrum and ear bones conducting sound to your hearing nerve (conductive hearing loss). Sensorineural hearing loss is often treated with hearing aids at early levels and cochlear implants at more advanced levels. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated with outpatient surgery, depending on the reason for the loss.

Eardrum Perforations

Eardrum perforations are exceptionally common. When they don’t heal on their own, drain, or cause hearing loss a surgical procedure is often required to fix the eardrum. Often this can be performed with a new technique and small camera that eliminates the need for any external incision or downtime from work or school.


Cholesteatomas are skin cysts that become trapped behind the eardrum. They cause drainage and hearing loss. Over long periods of time they can often erode the hearing bones and cause worsening of hearing loss.


Sometimes the hearing bones can stiffen over time, causing hearing loss because the vibrations of sound aren’t efficiently conducted to the hearing nerve.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak

Sometimes patients can develop small holes in the lining of bone between the ear and the brain. While the cause is often unknown, we believe that small amounts of increased pressure sustained over years can gradually cause the bone to wear down. Sometimes portions of the brain can protrude into the ear with the spinal fluid leak, which we call an encephalocele.

Acoustic Neuroma/Vestibular Schwannoma

Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors that arise from the nerves that connect the ear to the brain stem. They are often found in patients with hearing loss in one ear. They most commonly come from the balance nerves and are therefore also known as vestibular schwannomas. These tumors are commonly observed and no treatment is needed unless they grow, cause significant symptoms, or are causing brain compression. If treatment is needed, both surgery and radiation are possible options, depending on the specific tumor.

Skull Base Tumors

In addition to acoustic tumors, a variety of other tumors can form at the junction between the ear and the brain. These can cause different symptoms, which may include hearing loss, dizziness, facial weakness, facial numbness, and voice changes. This often depends on the type of tumor, the size of the tumor, and the structures it is compressing. Examples of these tumors and growths include: meningiomas, epidermoid tumors, gliomas, juvenile xanthogranulomas, hemangiopericytomas, endolymphatic sac tumors, and cholesterol granulomas.


Vertigo is the perception of motion that is not occurring. There are a variety of causes of vertigo. Identifying the cause of vertigo is the most important step as it greatly impacts the treatment. When vertigo comes from the inner ear an otologist can help with treatment and management. Common examples of this include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, and vestibular neuronitis. When it is not associated with the ear often a neurologist is needed for treatment and management. Common reasons for this can include central vertigo, stroke, or migraine-associated vertigo.

Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence

One specific cause of vertigo is superior semicircular canal dehiscence. Some patients can have the bone over their balance organs get very thin over time. This can cause specific symptoms like hearing their own heartbeat, hearing loss, and significant dizziness with pressure changes. Patients can also have strange sensations like “hearing their eyes move.”

My Practice:

I specialize in otology and neurotology. This is a boarded subspecialty of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat surgery) that is dedicated to treating issues with the hearing and balance systems. I provide medical care and perform ear surgeries on children and adults over a wide range of complexity from ear tubes all the way to removal of acoustic neuromas. My advanced training in neurotology has allowed me to dedicate a significant portion of my practice to the removal of complex skull base tumors as a part of a multidisciplinary team with neurosurgical colleagues. We work together to access portions of the brain through the ear in a way that minimizes pain and recovery time for patients. I also have advanced training in endoscopic ear surgery: a new technique that allows for surgical treatment of ear conditions without the need for external incisions and minimal time off from work or school.

The ability to hear is one of the important parts of the human experiences. Children with congenital hearing loss can face significant challenges with language development and with school. Adults with advanced hearing loss often find that fundamental human experiences like a dinner with friends, a family reunion, or a child’s graduation become terrifying for fear of missing conversation, or looking foolish for not understanding people. Everyone with hearing loss has a different story and different goals. I work with you to understand your hearing loss and offer a variety of options for treatment, from basic hearing aids to advanced surgeries like cochlear implants.

My academic research interests include the development of new treatments for patients with hearing and balance disorders. Collaborating with physicians at a variety of universities across the US allows us to better understand how we are doing across a greater sample size. I’m also interested in ways to optimize cochlear implant performance and delivery of implant services. I have authored over 40 publications to date. These include peer-reviewed original research in national and international medical journals for otolaryngology, invited expert commentary, and textbook chapters in commercially available otolaryngology textbooks. I’ve been active in presenting research at national meetings for professional societies, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American Neurotology Society, American Otological Society, American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology, North American Skull Base Society, and Triological Society.

I’m also dedicated to education in every sense. I want people to understand what is going on with their bodies and how they can take control of their own treatment. I’m also dedicated to the professional education of exceptionally talented resident physicians who are training at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Outside of work, I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy playing the guitar, keyboard, and listening to true crime podcasts.

World Class Treatment

UTHSC ENT - Dr. Robert Yawn - Ear Endoscope

Introducing UTHSC’s Ear Endoscopy Program

What is endoscopy? Endoscopy is the insertion of a long, thin tube directly into the body to observe an internal organ...
UTHSC ENT - Dr. Robert Yawn - Ear Specialist

Dream Team Profile: Robert Yawn, M.D.

Robert Yawn, M.D.: Ear Specialist at UTHSC ENT Today, we're excited to profile one of the premiere hearing and balance...
UTHSC ENT - Dr. Robert Yawn - Cochlear Implant Deafness Cure

A Deafness Cure? UTHSC ENT Now Offers Cochlear Implants

"Essentially a deafness cure": What is a cochlear implant? Cochlear implants bypass the mechanisms of the inner ear...

In Your Hometown


Methodist Teaching Physicians

1325 Eastmoreland Ave  |  Suite 260
Memphis, TN 38104  |  Directions
Phone: 901-272-6051  |  See More


Success Stories

Dr. Robert Yawn is accepting patients!

UTMP Head and Neck Surgery


Copyright © UTHSC Otolaryngology  |  Privacy Policy  |  Designed and Developed by Chris Milam