Skip to content



What is a Cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a condition where skin forms in the middle section of your ear, behind the eardrum where it otherwise shouldn’t. Some individuals are born with this and others may develop this condition later in life due to infections, perforations and other inner ear problems.

How Does A Cholesteatoma Form?

If you are not born with one, a cholesteatoma forms from perforations in the eardrum or from repeated infections. It can also be caused by a Eustachian tube that isn’t working properly usually due to infections, allergies or colds.

When this happens, the eardrum may get sucked inwards by a vacuum in the middle ear (space behind the ear drum) forming a pouch or sack from the skin that normally covers the eardrum. As skin is shed by the eardrum surface, it accumulates in and enlarges the sack creating a cholesteatoma.

Symptoms of A Cholesteatoma

The symptoms of a cholesteatoma may be any of the following:

Any of the above symptoms should prompt a visit to an ear, nose and throat specialist for evaluation.

Are Cholesteatoma Dangerous?

As the cholesteatoma grows, it can cause damage to the bones of hearing that are in the middle ear. A cholesteatoma eventually pushes its way into the mastoid bone and can even break into the brain cavity.

The facial nerve that runs through the middle ear and mastoid may also be damaged by the growth of the cholesteatoma. This can cause a paralysis of the face.

Frequently one has drainage repeatedly from an ear with a cholesteatoma before serious complications occur. Dizziness can also occur due to damage to the balance structures in the inner ear.

Treatment for Cholesteatoma

Treatment of a cholesteatoma can vary. The sack may be cleaned periodically through the ear canal by an ear, nose and throat specialist if the sack opening is accessible. Otherwise, a surgical procedure to remove the sack may be necessary. If surgery is needed, the hearing damage caused by the cholesteatoma may be treatable at the same time or as a secondary procedure. The primary purpose of the surgery, however, is to remove the cholesteatoma before serious complications occur.

If you’re suffering from one of the above symptoms or suspect a cholesteatoma, contact an ear, nose and throat specialist at Advanced Specialty Care. Our ENT specialists will discuss how we can best help you. We have offices in Ridgefield, Danbury, New Milford, and Norwalk in Fairfield County, CT.