Definition of Cholesteatoma

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Cholesteatoma: an abnormal growth of tissue behind the eardrum, in the middle ear. A cholesteatoma is not cancerous. Repeated ear infections and trauma to the eardrum can lead to a cholesteatoma. The growth may take the form of a pouch or sac. In some cases a cholesteatoma can grow to a size that destroys the surrounding bones of the middle ear, leading to hearing loss. Surgery can often improve the symptoms and is recommended for a large or complicated cholesteatoma. Other symptoms can include discharge or pus draining from the ear, a sense of fullness in the ear, dizziness, and pain behind or in the ear.


Ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. See Answer
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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