• Cholesteatoma


    A cholesteatoma is a type of cyst found in the middle ear behind the eardrum. Cholesteatoma is a noncancerous tumor that forms when the skin of a punctured eardrum grows through the hole in the middle ear.
    Regions of the Ear
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    Cholesteatomas are most often caused by:
    • Ear infections
    • Congenital defects
    • A poorly functioning eustachian tube

    Risk Factors

    Chronic ear infections increase your chance of developing cholesteatoma.


    Symptoms include:
    • Discharge from the ear, sometimes foul-smelling
    • Pressure in the ear
    • Hearing loss
    • Earache
    • Numbness of the ear
    • Dizziness
    • Muscle weakness in the face on the affected side


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Tests may include the following:
    • Your doctor may examine your ears. This can be done with hearing tests and balance tests.
    • You may need to have pictures taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with: Your doctor may want to check the function of your nerves. This can be done with:
      • Electronystagmography
      • Caloric stimulation


    Cholesteatoma is a serious medical problem. Early treatment is vital for the best outcome. Serious complications may occur if the tumor goes untreated, including hearing loss, and vertigo. Spreading of infection to the brain can lead to meningitis and brain abscess.
    Cholesteatoma responds well to treatments. Patients are likely to recover fully without complications if the tumor is caught and treated early. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:


    Thorough cleaning of the ear is necessary to remove fluid and bacteria. Eardrops are also usually administered.


    Surgery may be necessary if the tumor is threatening hearing or balance.


    Medications are necessary to dry the fluid in the ear. Ear drops and oral antibiotics are often prescribed. Antibiotics will eliminate any infection in the ear.


    Cholesteatomas caused by congenital defects cannot be prevented. However, proper treatment of ear infections can prevent cholesteatoma.


    American Academy of PediatricsHealthyChildren.org http://www.healthychildren.org

    American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org


    About Kids Health http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca


    Cholesteatoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 15, 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013.

    Cholesteatoma. ENT Health Information: Ears. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/cholesteatoma.cfm . Updated March 2011. Accessed January 31, 2013.

    Levenson M. Cholesteatoma. Ear Surgery Information Center website. Available at: http://www.earsurgery.org/cholest.html . Accessed January 31, 2013.

    Revision Information

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