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Definition of Cholesteatoma


Updated February 02, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: A cholesteatoma is a benign skin cyst in the middle ear that is comprised of mostly epithelial cells and, in many cases, cholesterol. An individual can be born with a cholesteatoma or it can develop later on in life. Symptoms of a cholesteatoma include dizziness, hearing loss, and ear drainage.

A common myth is that high cholesterol levels may cause cholesteatomas because of its name, but this is not true. Although cholesterol may be a component of cholesteatomas, they are not caused by high cholesterol levels. They usually result from chronic ear infections.

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