Cholesteatoma (Ear Growths)
What is Cholesteatoma?
Cholesteatoma (or Ear Growths) is a cyst-like growth that develops in the middle area behind the eardrum. It can be congenital, but usually is a result of chronic ear infection. The cyst or pouch can develop from tearing or pulling inward of eardrum. The skin shed by this pouch can build up and block the sensitive middle ear. Cholesteatoma is not malignant i.e. it is not cancerous. However, if left untreated it can lead to complications like permanent hearing loss, facial muscle paralysis as well as life threatening illnesses like meningitis.
If you are showing some or all of its common systems, do not hesitate to set up an appointment with our skilled and experienced ENT specialists. Give us a call at 440 352 1474 and start your journey to quick recovery!
What Causes Cholesteatoma?
Cholesteatoma can be the result of a birth defect or can be encouraged by repeated ear infections.
A growth is present behind the tympanic membrane (eardrum) from birth. This may be the result of misplaced development of skin cells in the middle ear. A Cholesteatoma can also develop congenitally in the nearby skull bones in rare cases.
Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to nose and back of the throat. It conveys air from back of the nose to the middle ear to maintain suitable pressure in the ear. Chronic or repeated infections can impair the functioning of the Eustachian tube. The air in the middle air is absorbed by the body, leading to the creation of a partial vacuum. The suction draws in the eardrum and a sac or pouch is created, where skin cells collect and multiply to give rise to Cholesteatoma.
Some common causes of ear infection include:
What are the Symptoms of Cholesteatoma?
Cholesteatoma usually affects only one ear. If the initial symptoms are ignored it can lead to serious complications.
Initially Cholesteatoma may be apparent through following symptoms:
- Drainage of fluid with foul odor
- Feeling of fullness or pressure in the ear
- Difficulty hearing
- Ringing sound in the ear (tinnitus)
If Cholesteatoma continues to grow unchecked, following complications may arise:
- Damage to the tiny bones of the ear (the ossicles) as well as to the mastoid bone, leading to permanent deafness
- Damage to the cochlea
- Damage to the nerves travelling to the face leading to weakness or paralysis of some facial muscles
- Infected Cholesteatoma can erode the skull and reach the brain, causing meningitis and brain abscess. These conditions can lead to death.
What are the Risk Factors for Cholesteatoma?
In rare cases, Cholesteatoma is a result of a birth defect. However, mostly repeated and chronic ear-infections are the reasons behind development of one.
When Should I see a Doctor?
You should contact your ENT specialist as soon as:
- You feel pain and pressure inside your ear
- Notice smelly discharge coming out of your ear
- You find it hard to hear with clarity
Cholesteatoma can turn into a potential life-threatening condition; therefore, it is important to see your doctor as soon as the early signs and symptoms appear.
How is Cholesteatoma Diagnosed?
Your ENT specialist or Otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon) may try to identify Cholesteatoma through your symptoms. Following tests may also be carried out:
- A lit otoscope is used to see the growth as well as the damage caused by it
- Hearing tests are carried out to figure out the extent of damage to your hearing capabilities
- A CT scan can help to evaluate the spread and destruction caused by Cholesteatoma
How is Cholesteatoma Treated?
Initially following treatments may help:
- Cleaning of the ear
- Antibiotic therapy
- Ear drops
In advanced cases, surgery might be the only option. The Cholesteatoma and the surrounding infected area are removed, under general anesthesia. A follow up surgery may be required to make sure the growth is completely gone as well as to reconstruct the damaged ear bones.
Cholesteatoma is a condition that must be addressed as soon as it is suspected. If you are showing some or all of its common systems, do not hesitate to set up an appointment with our skilled and experienced ENT specialists. Give us a call at 440 352 1474 and start your journey to quick recovery!
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- The Necessity of Early Intervention in Hearing
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