Cholesteatoma (mass of the middle ear)

Ear Nose | Otorhinolaryngology | Cholesteatoma (mass of the middle ear) (Disease)


Cholesteatoma is a disorder characterized by a keratinizing squamous epithelium growth in the middle ear and/or mastoid process. Due to the fact that it can expand it’s considered injurious.

Symptoms: dizziness; pain or numbness in or around the ear; drainage from the ear; hearing loss in one ear; vertigo; balance disruption and facial nerve weakness. Untreated, complication can appear such as: brain abscess, Meningitis, erosion into the facial nerve causing facial paralysis, labyrinthitis, spread of the cyst into the brain.

Causes and Risk factors

Cholesteatoma can be a birth defect - congenital, but it more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection. Acquired cholesteatomas are far more common, and are caused by a retracted or damaged eardrum. Squamous epithelium (skin cells) is introduced into the middle ear through a torn or perforated eardrum.

This is usually due to repeated ear infections, but any type of traumatic injury can create these conditions (an explosion, for example). Congenital cholesteatomas are rare, but they do occur in some individuals. Squamous epithelium becomes “trapped” in the middle ear during development in the womb, which later progresses to a cholesteatoma after birth.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An ear exam can point the presence of cholesteatoma and to rule out other causes of dizziness, computer tomography scan and electronystagmography may be performed. Surgery is performed to remove the sac of squamous debris and a mastoidectomy is performed. ...

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