What is Cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a very common pediatric ear disease managed by the Ear and Hearing Center at Cincinnati Children’s. Cholesteatoma refers to a cyst-like growth of skin within the middle ear and mastoid compartments.

Treatment Options

Generally, the treatment option is to remove the cyst (cholesteatoma) through surgery.  Left untreated, cholesteatomas eventually lead to hearing loss and recurrent ear infections.  In addition, it is possible for an untreated cholesteatoma to cause problems beyond ear and hearing difficulties.

Management of cholesteatoma involves a two-stage procedure in children. In the first stage, the cholesteatoma is cleaned from the middle ear and mastoid with the ear drum repaired with a graft. At the second stage, several months later, the middle ear and mastoid are examined for any residual cholesteatoma and removed if found. If any ossicular damage were caused by the cholesteatoma, an artificial ossicular prosthesis is inserted at this time to improve hearing.

It is often difficult to completely remove cholesteatomas from a child’s ear; as a result many patients must return for further treatment and care management.  The Ear and Hearing Center specializes in the management of these difficult cases in which more aggressive or extensive procedures may be required to achieve a healthy ear.

Conditions Treated

Learn more about other common ear-related conditions that we treat at the Ear and Hearing Center. Read more