Cholesteatomas are potentially harmful cysts of skin that occur in the middle ear, which is the space behind the eardrum. These can be difficult to detect as patients often do not have symptoms of chronic ear disease until the cyst has become quite large.
Read Clay Cook's story
“I thought I just had clogged ears. Instead, my ENT said, ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you don’t have a bit of wax in your ear. The bad news is that you’ve got a cholesteatoma.'"
- Hearing loss
- Ear pressure
- Pain ear (in or behind ear)
- Drainage of a foul-smelling fluid
- Facial paralysis
Diagnosis and Treatment
Treatment of cholesteatoma typically begins with imaging, usually a CT scan, to determine the severity of the cyst. Once a cholesteatoma has formed, surgery is necessary for removal. The goals of cholesteatoma surgery are to create a safe, dry ear free from cholesteatoma and to restore or preserve hearing.
- Cholesteatoma surgery
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Did you know?
Congenital cholesteatomas are thought to arise from embryologic crests of skin cells that are left behind during a baby’s development.
Acquired cholesteatoma typically develops as a result of eustachian tube dysfunction and chronic negative middle ear pressure.
Though less common, other potential causes can include perforation or fracture of the temporal bone and metaplasia, whereby normal mucosal cells of the middle ear lining convert into cholesteatoma-forming squamous cells.