What is cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a skin growth in the middle ear behind the eardrum. The ingrowth often occurs as a cyst or pouch that sheds layers of old skin that build up inside the ear. Cholesteatomas can increase in size and destroy the surrounding bones of the middle ear.

Symptoms

As the cholesteatoma enlarges, it can cause pressure in the ear as well as hearing loss. There may also be ear drainage, sometimes with a foul odor.

Causes

It is usually caused by repeated infection or poor eustachian tube function.

Diagnosis

Hearing and balance tests, and CAT scans of the skull next to the ear are conducted to determine the extent of the growth.

Treatment

Initial treatment may include a careful cleaning of the ear, antibiotics, and ear drops. Cholesteatomas usually require surgical treatment to prevent serious complications.

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