Cholesteatoma


Definition

Cholesteatoma is a skin growth that occurs in an abnormal location – the middle ear behind the eardrum. It is usually due to repeated infection, which causes an ingrowth of the skin of the eardrum. Cholesteatomas often take the form of a cyst or pouch which sheds layers of old skin that builds up inside the ear. Over time, the Cholesteatoma can increase in size and destroy the surrounding delicate bones of the middle ear.

Symptoms of a Cholesteatoma

Hearing loss, dizziness, and facial muscle paralysis are rare but can result from continued Cholesteatoma growth.

  • Initially the ear may drain, sometimes with a foul odor.
  • As the Cholesteatoma pouch or sac enlarges, it can cause a full feeling or pressure in the ear, along with hearing loss.
  • Dizziness or muscle weakness on one side of the face (the side of the infected ear) can also occur.
  • Bone erosion can cause the infection to spread into the surrounding areas, including the inner ear and brain. If untreated, deafness, brain abscess, meningitis, and rarely death can occur.

Any or all of these symptoms are good reasons to seek medical evaluation. Ear Cholesteatomas can be dangerous and should never be ignored

Treatment of a Cholesteatoma

An examination by an Otolaryngologist can confirm the presence of a Cholesteatoma.

Persisting earache, ear drainage, ear pressure, hearing loss, dizziness, or facial muscle weakness signals the need for an evaluation by an Otolaryngologist.

  • Initial treatment may consist of a careful cleaning of the ear, antibiotics, and eardrops.
  • Therapy aims to stop drainage in the ear by controlling the infection.
  • The extent of growth characteristics of a Cholesteatoma must also be evaluated.
  • Large or complicated Cholesteatoma usually require surgical treatment to protect the patient from serious complications.

Cholesteatoma is a serious but treatable ear condition, which can only be diagnosed by medical examination.