Conditions We Treat: Cholesteatoma

Cholesteatoma, a noncancerous disease of the middle ear, can affect children and adults. ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center has many years of experience treating this condition. Learn more about cholesteatoma, and how our expert team can help.


What Is Cholesteatoma?

A cholesteatoma is a skin cyst that appears in the middle ear. Though noncancerous, a cholesteatoma can lead to other problems as it becomes larger. If the cyst remains untreated and continues to grow, it can cause paralysis or weakness in the face muscles.

Diagram of the middle ear and cholesteatoma or infection related to perforated or retracted eardrum


What Causes Cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma has various potential causes. Though the condition can be congenital, the most common cause is a malfunctioning Eustachian tube. The tube, which extends from behind the nose into the middle ear and allows airflow to balance pressure within the ear, may become damaged from multiple sinus infections, allergies, or colds.

The damage can lead to a vacuum within the middle ear. This vacuum will suck the eardrum into the middle ear, which will then cause a cyst. This cyst becomes engorged as a result of fluids, skin cells, and other materials.


What Are Symptoms of Cholesteatoma?

Potential symptoms include:

  • Fluids leaking from the ear
  • Unpleasant odor in the ear
  • Feelings of discomfort as the cyst grows
  • Pain within or behind the ear
  • Loss of hearing in the ear
  • Dizziness

Symptoms may at first be mild, but can become more problematic as the cyst becomes larger, causing issues within the ear.


How Is Cholesteatoma Diagnosed?

If you or your loved one feels pressure, drainage, loss of hearing, or pain in the ear, our expert otolaryngologist Dr. Daniel S. Samadi may examine the ear with an otoscope. This can help detect a deposit of skin cells or blood vessels, which can indicate the presence of a cyst.

Dr. Samadi can also identify cholesteatoma by checking the eardrum to see if any holes are present due to suction. CT scans are also used in cases where the cyst isn’t obvious.


How Is Cholesteatoma Treated?

Cholesteatoma typically requires surgical intervention. Cysts generally do not go away on their own, often becoming larger and causing severe problems if they remain untreated.

At ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center, the procedure is conducted in a comfortable outpatient setting. Hospital stays are necessary only in situations where the cyst is large or there is severe infection.

After the procedure, it’s important to return for follow-up visits to confirm the cyst has been removed completely.

If you or a loved one has potential symptoms of cholesteatoma, a medical consultation is the first step to getting you back to optimal health. So don’t wait. Contact the expert team at ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center for a diagnostic evaluation today.

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