Babies and young children may sometimes develop this skin condition within their middle ear. While this condition is non-cancerous, it can be caused by multiple ear infections, and may also be congenital. ENT for Children has many years of experience in treating this condition and we can help your child recover from a cholesteatoma successfully.

What is a cholesteatoma?

A cholesteatoma is a skin cyst which appears in the middle ear, and it is usually caused by a Eustachian tube that doesn’t function properly. This tube stretches from behind the nose into the middle ear, and allows air flow which balances the pressure within the ear.

The Eustachian tube may become damaged due to multiple sinus infections, allergies or colds, which can lead to a vacuum within the middle ear. This vacuum will suck the eardrum into the middle ear, which will then cause a cyst. This cyst will become engorged as a result of fluids, skin cells and other materials. Some babies are born with cholesteatoma as a result of a birth defect.

What are the symptoms of a cholesteatoma?

The symptoms for a cholesteatoma will at first be mild, but will become more problematic as the cyst becomes larger, causing issues within the ear. If the cyst remains untreated, and continues to grow, it can cause paralysis or weakness in the face muscles. Your child may also experience dizziness.  Other symptoms that your child may display include:

  • Fluids leaking from the ear
  • The ear produces an unpleasant odor
  • Feelings of discomfort as the cyst grows
  • Pain within or behind the ear
  • A loss of hearing in the ear

How is the diagnosis established?

A cholesteatoma will be diagnosed depending on the symptoms of the child. If they feel pressure, drainage, pain or a loss of hearing within their ear, Dr. Samadi will examine their ear with an otoscope. This tool is used to determine if a deposit of skin cells or blood vessels can be detected which indicate the presence of a cyst. He can also determine the presence of a cholesteatoma by checking the eardrum to see if any holes are present due to suction. CT scans are also used in cases where the cyst isn’t obvious.

How is the cholesteatoma treated?

A cholesteatoma treatment can only occur surgically. The cyst must be removed so that no complications occur, should it become bigger. Unlike other ear problems, these cysts do not go away on their own, and will usually become larger, causing severe problems if they remain untreated. At ENT for Children, these operations can be carried out in an outpatient setting, meaning that your child doesn’t have to stay at the hospital once the surgery has been completed. Hospital stays are only necessary in situations where the cyst is large or the child has a severe infection.

After the cholesteatoma has been removed, you will need to bring your child back for follow up visits so that Dr. Samadi can ensure that the cyst has been removed completely. In some cases, the cyst may break the bones within the ear, and when this occurs, a second surgery must be performed. Contact ENT for Children today if your child is showcasing the symptoms of a cholesteatoma, as this condition can become serious, if left untreated.