Cholesteatoma

What is a Cholesteatoma?

A cholesteatoma is a benign skin growth that can develop behind the eardrum in the form of a cyst. It can affect hearing, balance and facial muscles. Left untreated, these cysts can lead to complications, but solutions are available at Charleston ENT & Allergy. From the initial diagnosis to finding a treatment plan, our team is here to support you.

Older man sitting on the couch and holding himself upright with his cane while holding his ear due to pain from a cholesteatoma

What Causes a Cholesteatoma?

The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear and the throat. If this tube isn’t working properly, part of the eardrum can be pulled into the middle ear. This can create a cyst that fills up with fluids, skin cells and other materials.

In rare instances, children are born with cholesteatomas.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cholesteatoma?

  • Dizziness
  • Hearing loss in one ear
  • Pressure or a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Drainage from the ear

What Complications Can Arise from a Cholesteatoma?

Without treatment, a cholesteatoma will continue to grow and has the potential for multiple complications, including:

  • Damage to the eardrum, bones inside the ear and facial nerves
  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscess

How Do Doctors Diagnose a Cholesteatoma?

Our provider will begin by examining your ear. They’ll use an otoscope to look for clumps of dead skin cells or blood vessels, both of which are signs of a cyst. Additional tests may include a CT scan, which allows our ENT to view the inside of your ear and skull.

Throughout the process, our provider will take time to answer any questions and ensure that you understand your condition and how to best treat it.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

If our ENT has determined you have a cholesteatoma, they’ll likely prescribe antibiotics to control the infection and reduce any inflammation. Because cholesteatomas don’t go away naturally and often continue to grow, surgery may be required to remove it.

Being diagnosed with a cholesteatoma might feel stressful, but our team at Charleston ENT & Allergy can help. With treatment, you’ll be able to reconnect with the sounds in your world and engage in the activities that are most meaningful to you.