If you have been diagnosed with a cholesteatoma, you will probably want to find out as much as you can about the condition. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about the diagnosis and treatment of cholesteatoma.
What is cholesteatoma?
Cholesteatoma is the medical name for a cyst which forms deep within the ear. Cyst form when skin cells reproduce and group together in an abnormal way. The cyst is not cancerous, but if it is left untreated, it can cause damage to the ear which may affect your ability to balance and hear. Cholesteatoma can also trigger tinnitus and vertigo.
What are the symptoms of cholesteatoma?
The condition will typically only affect one of your ears. Symptoms include:
- Gradual hearing loss
- Watery and unpleasant smelling discharge
- Discomfort or pain in your ear
If you suspect you have a cholesteatoma, you should book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor will assess your ear before referring you to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department at your local hospital. The ENT department is staffed by specialist doctors who are trained in the treatment of conditions which affect the ear.
How is cholesteatoma treated?
The only treatment available for cholesteatoma is surgery. This is usually performed under a general anaesthetic which means you will be completely unconscious when the operation is performed. The surgeon will make an incision behind the ear and will then use special instruments to locate and remove the cyst. If the cholesteatoma has grown into the surrounding bones, these may also be removed. If you have suffered damage to your hearing, the surgeon may also attempt to repair or replace the hearing bone using a prosthesis.
What will the recovery be like?
Depending on how the operation progresses, you will either be released on the same day once you have recovered from the anaesthetic or you will be kept in overnight for observation. Once you have been discharged from the hospital, you will need to take a few days off work so you can rest and recover from the ear surgery. During the recovery period, you should keep your ear dry. If you plan to take a shower, you should insert cotton wool into your ear to prevent any water from entering the ear canal.
If you have any concerns about the health of your ears and you would like further information, you should contact an ENT specialist today for help and assistance.