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Cholesteatoma is a benign growth of skin in the middle ear and/or mastoid that can lead to infection and more serious problems involving the brain and facial nerve.

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Complications for Cholesteatoma


A: Temporal lobe. Cholesteatoma here can cause: meningocele/ encephalocele, meningitis, brain abscess.

B: Sigmoid Sinus vein. Cholesteatoma here can cause: thrombophlebitis, intracranial hypertension, abducens nerve paresis, diplopia.

C. Semicircular canals.  Cholesteatoma here can cause: dizziness, vertigo.

D. Facial nerve.  Cholesteatoma here can cause: facial paralysis, facial hyperkinesis.

Erosion of the ossicles (bones) behind the eardrum can lead to a conductive hearing loss. The bone over the facial nerve can also be destroyed, and a facial paralysis can result. The inner ear, composed of a bony labyrinth, can also be partially destroyed. This can lead to sensorineural hearing loss and dizziness. The infection can also spread into the veins carrying blood from the brain to the heart. This large vein, called the lateral venous sinus, can obstruct and cause excessive fluid to accumulate within and around the brain, leading to a condition called hydrocephalus. The infection can also spread to the covering of the brain and cause meningitis. In rare circumstances, a brain abscess can result.

About Dr. Prasad

Dr. Sanjay Prasad MD FACS is a board certified physician and surgeon with over thirty-two years of sub-specialty experience in Otology, Neurotology, advanced head and neck oncologic surgery, and cranial base surgery. He is chief surgeon and founder of the private practice, Metropolitan NeuroEar Group, located in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area.