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Ear Exam



What is Cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a complex and potentially serious condition that affects the middle ear. It involves the abnormal growth of skin cells, leading to the formation of a cyst-like structure. While it may sound innocuous, cholesteatoma can cause significant complications if left untreated.

This condition typically develops as a result of a malfunction of the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. When this tube fails to equalize pressure in the middle ear properly, it can create a vacuum that pulls skin cells from the ear canal into the middle ear and mastoid area. Over time, these cells accumulate and form a cyst-like growth, which is the cholesteatoma.

What are the types of Cholesteatoma?

There are two major types of cholesteatoma:

  • Congenital Cholesteatoma. This type is present at birth and usually occurs in the middle ear without any previous history of ear infections or Eustachian tube dysfunction.

  • Acquired Cholesteatoma. This type develops as a result of chronic ear infections or repeated Eustachian tube dysfunction. It's more common and often associated with a history of ear infections, trauma, or other ear-related issues.

In its early stages, cholesteatoma might not cause noticeable symptoms but as it grows, it can lead to various problems, including:

  • Gradual hearing loss.

  • Persistent ear drainage or discharge, which might have an unpleasant odor.

  • Ear pain or discomfort.

  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear.

  • Vertigo or dizziness if the balance system is affected.

If left untreated, cholesteatoma can lead to serious complications, such as an erosion of the surrounding bones, including the ossicles, infections that can spread to the brain or other nearby structures, damage to the facial nerve, formation of an abscess or a cyst, and hearing loss, often progressing to a significant degree.


Cholesteatoma requires medical intervention. The standard treatment is surgical removal to prevent further growth and complications. Mastoidectomy is a common surgical procedure used to eliminate the cholesteatoma and prevent its recurrence. During the surgery, the surgeon creates an incision behind the ear and removes the infected and abnormal tissue from the middle ear and mastoid bone.

Tympanoplasty is a surgical technique often performed in conjunction with mastoidectomy. It focuses on reconstructing the eardrum and restoring its normal function. Tympanoplasty involves using graft material to repair the perforated eardrum and close any communication between the middle ear and external ear canal. This procedure helps to prevent recurrent infections and improves hearing capabilities.

If you suspect you might have cholesteatoma or if you are experiencing symptoms such as persistent ear drainage, hearing loss, or ear pain, it's essential to consult with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. An accurate diagnosis and timely treatment can help prevent further complications and preserve your hearing and ear health.


Experiencing ear discomfort or other related concerns?

Learn more about our services for Ears and Hearing Loss concerns at ENT Family in Broward County, easily accessible from Miami, Hollywood, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs & Aventura.

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