What is cholesteatoma?

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David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Cholesteatoma, or a cyst in the middle ear, is a benign growth of skin that can cause hearing loss. As it grows, the cyst can harm the middle ear by eroding the bone around it. This can cause a conductive hearing loss (caused by a blockage of sound transmission through the outer ear or the middle ear that prevents sound waves from passing through to the inner ear). If it gets big enough to enter the inner ear, it can lead to sensorineural hearing loss as well (sensorineural hearing loss is permanent hearing loss caused by damage to the cochlea, hair cells, or auditory nerve). Cholesteatomas are usually surgically removed.
Eric E. Smouha, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Cholesteatoma is a relatively common disease caused by repeated ear infections. It is a benign growth that forms beneath the eardrum. Over time, the growth enlarges and causes recurrent infections and hearing loss. If left untreated, serious complications such as labyrinthitis or meningitis can develop.
Cholesteatoma is a relatively common disease that results from repeated ear infections. Cholesteatoma is a benign growth that forms beneath the eardrum. Chloesteatoma can also grow into the cranial space. Over time, the growth enlarges and causes recurrent infections and hearing loss. If left untreated, serious complications such as labyrinthitis or meningitis can develop.

Cholesteatoma is a disease of the ear that can cause deafness. A person with cholesteatoma suffers from an epithelial skin cyst that grows in the middle ear and mastoid. While cholesteatoma is not cancer, it can cause the destruction of the tissue and bone surrounding the cyst, resulting in deafness.

Although doctors are still not sure what causes cholesteatoma, most agree that the cyst forms due to improper functioning of the Eustachian tube, which drains mucus and equalizes pressure in the ear. In addition, doctors link cholesteatoma with ear infections.

One of the biggest problems associated with cholesteatoma is the fact that the cysts grow slowly, so patients may not be aware of them, although they are jeopardizing their hearing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.