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What is cholesteatoma and how to cure it?

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What is a cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is the name given to the cutaneous cyst that forms inside the middle ear. This formation of dead tissue and dirt is enlarged over time, compromising the areas of the eardrum and the bones of the skull including the mastoid bone.

A cholesteatoma can grow to such an extent that it can rupture the middle ear structures, causing damage to hearing, balance and even interfere with the function of facial muscles.

It is a congenital condition that may be present in the patient at birth. However, it is more common to see its development as a consequence of a prolonged ear infection that damages the function of the Eustachian tube.

It should be noted that an essential part of the mass that forms is dead tissue and dirt or debris from the ear. Therefore, the chances of the cholesteatoma becoming infected are high.

Colesteatoma (1)

Cholesteatoma symptoms.

Signs that may warn of this condition are:

  • Sensation of pressure in the ear, including a sensation that the ear is full.
  • Total loss or decrease in hearing, a condition called hypoacusis.
  • Vertigo is described as loss of balance and orientation in which the patient feels that the world around them is moving.
  • Drainage of fluid from the affected ear sometimes may be a chronic discharge.
Colesteatoma (1)


As mentioned at the beginning, the causes of cholesteatoma can be hereditary genetic characteristics or as a consequence of a deficiency in the functioning of the Eustachian tube that causes a vacuum in the middle ear that drags elements to create the cyst.

Risk factors for cholesteatoma.

One characteristic that can increase the risk of cholesteatoma is living with a chronic ear infection. When the infection is prolonged over time, it can alter the condition of the middle ear by disrupting the function of the Eustachian tube.

Diagnostic process.

In addition to discussing the patient’s symptoms and medical history, some tests will also be necessary for the ENT physician to diagnose the condition.

Considering that the symptoms can be confused with various diseases of the middle ear, the physician may recommend physical and imaging tests to rule out, such as:

  • Ambulatory observation with otoscope: With this instrument, the ENT physician can analyze the condition of the sac and eardrum and determine the characteristics of these organs.
  • Vestibular nerve tests: To evaluate the patient’s balance condition, an electronystagmogram may be recommended, which is a test that analyzes the signals sent to the nerves that interpret movement and balance.

Each of the tests are necessary to determine the reason for the symptoms. It is important to rule out all middle ear conditions in order to establish the appropriate treatment.

Possible complications of cholesteatoma.

Cholesteatoma can be dangerous when not treated in time because it is a cyst that can damage several nearby nerves and cause complications such as:

  • Meningitis, infection of the membrane covering the brain.
  • Damage to facial nerves, causing facial paralysis.
  • Permanent damage to hearing.
  • Brain abscess, i.e., the development of an infection in the brain.


As it is a cutaneous mass of spontaneous appearance, there is only one treatment: a surgery to remove the cholesteatoma.

The surgical option is the only viable and effective treatment to avoid the complications and symptoms caused by cholesteatoma. It is a quick and safe procedure in most cases. However, the patient must maintain preventive revision sessions to clean the ear and prevent the recurrence of the cyst.

Colesteatoma (1)

Dr. Lech ENT doctor

Can help you remove cholesteatoma in Panama.

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