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Photo: Cholesteatoma is usually caused by repeated ear infections

What is cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma is a cyst or pouch of skin within the ear. It is usually due to a repeated ear infection, which causes skin to grow inwards from the eardrum. The first sign may be a persistent smelly discharge (leak) from the ear. If left untreated, it can get bigger and destroy the delicate bones within the middle ear and cause permanent deafness.

Diagnosing and treating cholesteatoma

It is necessary to remove the cholesteatoma before it can cause damage. If children have a chronic discharge from the ear over a long period it is very important that they see an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for assessment and advice. An ENT doctor can usually diagnose cholesteatoma by examining the ear.