doctor examining child for cholesteatoma
doctor examining child for cholesteatoma
doctor examining child for cholesteatoma


What is cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a skin-containing cyst or growth located in or near the middle ear. The growth can be either present at birth (congenital) or can form later in childhood, sometimes as a complication of chronic ear infections.


  • Drainage from the ear
  • Hearing loss in one ear
  • Pain in the ear
  • Dizziness


An ear exam with a device called otoscope to look inside the ear and check for abnormalities of the ear drum is required. Specialized examination of the ear with a microscope, CT scan and hearing tests may be helpful.


The typical treatment is surgery. If untreated, cholesteatomas can lead to deafness, facial nerve paralysis and other complications affecting the brain.

When to Call for Help

Call your pediatrician if you notice any of the symptoms listed above in your child.

Pediatric Otolaryngology

Jonathan Walsh with patient

Our pediatric otolaryngologists provide compassionate and comprehensive care for children with common and rare ear, nose, and throat conditions. As part of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, you have access to all the specialized resources of a children's hospital.  

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