Children's Hospital Colorado

Cholesteatoma in Children

What is a cholesteatoma?

A cholesteatoma is a cyst in the middle ear space behind the eardrum. It causes inflammation and destruction in the middle ear.

What causes cholesteatoma?

A cholesteatoma can be caused by chronic middle ear infections, injury to the eardrum or eustachian tube dysfunction. Eustachian tube dysfunction is a condition in which the eustachian tube does not work properly. The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the nose and helps to regulate pressure behind your eardrums. Eustachian tube dysfunction can lead to low pressure. This weakens the eardrum and causes it to pull inward, which causes skin cells and earwax to build up and cause a cholesteatoma.

Rarely, a cholesteatoma may be present at birth (congenital cholesteatoma).

A cholesteatoma cyst can get bigger or become infected, which can damage the surrounding bones within the middle ear.