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Middle Ear Infections and Cholesteatoma

Middle ear infections, referred to as chronic otitis media, are common and frequent in children. As a result, the placement of ventilation tubes, to reduce the occurrence of chronic otitis media and to restore hearing, is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in children in the United States. Although this service is provided to our young patients, we are especially interested and experienced in the care of children with more complicated ear problems that result from unrelenting infections. These include ear drum perforations, chronic mastoid infections and cholesteatoma.

Cholesteatoma is ear drum skin growing in the wrong place. Because skin is a constantly replenished tissue, the dead cells must be continuously shed. If they accumulate in a recessed area of the ear, the discarded tissue can be a source of nutrition for bacteria and consequently frequent infections may occur. Cholesteatoma in children may be congenital, something children are born with, or more commonly an acquired condition. The acquired condition develops from an ingrowth of the ear drum into the middle ear, usually resulting from frequent middle ear infections. Acquired cholesteatoma, which is generally seen in older children, tend to become infected repeatedly and may cause hearing loss.

Because we work closely with our pediatric colleagues in audiology, infectious disease and radiology, we can develop an integrated approach that ensures accurate diagnosis, optimal medical management and sensitivity to the communication needs of your child. If middle ear infection surgery is required, the latest equipment and technical expertise allow us to perform safe and accurate reconstruction of both the ear drum and the little bones, the ossicles, that conduct sound to the inner ear.

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To find a head and neck specialist for your needs, contact the Head & Neck Institute at 216.444.8500 (or toll-free 1.800.223.2273, ext. 48500)

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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