Cholesteatoma Information

A lot of people come across my blog searching for information about tympanoplasty recovery. A reader recently wrote in with his perspective on a cholesteatoma that I feel needs highlighting. Although I don’t agree with Shea’s assessment of anesthesia, it’s a valuable piece of writing. It’s reposted after the jump.

Richard, great info on here! Hopefully, I can add a little info here for the folks needing tympanoplasty and similar procedures due to cholesteatoma.

I had a modified radical mastoidectomy with tympanoplasty on my left ear when I was about 14. Due to the more serious nature of that surgery and the damage caused by the cholesteatoma, all of the ossicular structure had to be replaced, as well as a cartilege eardrum graft made. For about 20 years, I enjoyed remarkably good results out of that ear given the extensiveness of that surgery and prior pathology. Only recently (I’m 33 now) has there been any noticeable diminution of hearing in that ear, but in having a strong right ear, I never had to wear a hearing aid or contemplate further surgery.

However, one morning I woke up, and I just couldn’t hear worth a crap from my right ear. I thought possibly I had an infection, so I started taking Mucinex and popping my ears more frequently in hopes that this would correct the new deafness. After about 2 months, nothing happened, so I went to the doctor who had been maintaining my previously operated upon ear (cleanings, monitoring, etc.) and he recognized what he thought was a cholesteatoma in my right ear. Sure enough, after he passed me across the hall of the otolaryngology center to a doctor experienced in identification and correction of cholesteatoma, the diagnosis was made, a CT scan ordered, and a hearing test administered. My right ear hearing was now only as strong as my left ear. Before I even left the Dr.’s office, he was working on getting me a loaner hearing aid so that I wouldn’t have to suffer my new deafness when around others at work or home.

So, I just had a tympanomastoid type III w/ ossicular chain reconstruction yesterday. The operation was over at about 2:45 pm, and I was in the car on the way home at 4:15, still dizzy and very sleepy but otherwise feeling fine. Got home at 5:30, after my wife swung by daycare to pick our daughter up and ran into the drugstore to get some mild pain meds. I slept from the moment I got home until a little past 8 this morning. I feel surprisingly good. I have decent balance and mobility, and any impairment I have is probably more due to the mild pain meds and residual effects of anesthesia and hunger than to the effects of the operation. Honestly, I think I may go back to work on Monday if I can pull away from the pain meds sometime on Sunday, which I think I can do.

In yesterday’s surgery, the doctor made the incision behind the ear, removed the cholesteatomatous growth, did a light cleaning on the mastoid, and replaced a part of the incus which had failed or disconnected due to the disintegrating effects of the enzymes present in the cholesteatoma. According to my wife, per the doctor while I was in recovery, an eardrum recreation was not necessary, which is obviously great news for me, and will probably mean that my hearing has a much greater chance to return to normal.

For the time being, however, I have a loaner hearing aid in my left ear to compensate for its historical weakness until (hopefully) the hearing in my right ear returns to the normal range, of which my doctor seemed to believe was the most likely outcome.

So, I’ve had cholesteatomas in both ears now, and had successful operations to correct them. The more extensive operation in my left ear has left a slight impairment due to the fact that I effectively have no ear canal to compress and direct the sounds (canal wall down)as well as having a cartilege – as opposed to skin – tympanic membrane graft. The cartilege prevents a future retraction of the eardrum into the middle ear, preventing another cholesteatoma, but obviously doesn’t have the sensitivity of an epitheleal graft.

20 hours after my surgery, I’m feeling good and I’m excited that I probably won’t be laid out for the next 2 weeks. Who wants to burn all their vacation on recovery from surgery?

By the way, I rather enjoyed the anesthesia as it was first administered. It feels almost like first big drop on an old wooden roller coaster! Coming out of the anesthesia, it’s better to just go back to bed and sleep if off than to try and fight it. The worst part of this operation was getting the IV inserted, and that was even less painful than giving blood for a physical checkup.

There are 8 responses to “Cholesteatoma Information”


  • Thanks for the post! I had a similar procedure, but it was for a retracted eardrum with no preforation, but they had to put in cartillage support for my ear drum and put in bone implants, so now I’m 10% bionic..lol It’s been 4 days after surgery and things are going well. I’m feeling fine and hopefully will be back to hearing much better in the weeks to come. Not sure if cholesteatoma was involved in this procedure.

  • Writing about what one believes in as well as you have here is impressive. You had my attention from the beginning. You have a great grasp of the points you made. I appreciate your passion.

  • Hi. I am about to have my first Chol. surgery in left ear. It has movet to the right one also, but this will be done later. I am concerned about 1 thing. i am working as flight attendant and most of landings are painful…I am just wandering after surgery, how long time or if I ever should get back to flyng as job. There might be of course risk,that I just dont make hearing test, that is required on that work.

  • Hi. I had mastiod surgery on left ear (May 22) to remove cholesteatoma. Inision was made above the ear. I returned home the following day and spent the next few weeks resting. I had a lot of pain,dizziness, feeling rather weak. However, 6 weeks later (June 1) I had the packing removed at ENT outpatients. The doctor checked the graft and said its fine and placed a cotton ball into ear because of slight bleeding. I have to return after few weeks for a hearing test. BUT MT QUESTION, since having packing removed I am still bleeding especially when I wake up in morning the cotton ball is soaked. It’s day 5 now. Do I need WORRY?

  • I would to hear from ppl that experienced this. Thanks

  • Hi everyone, I had a tympanomastoidectomy 6 days ago for a perf in my eardrum, and a colesteatoma. I was wondering, how long before the taste sensation comes back? its driving me crazy. Great Blog btw, wish I would have found it sooner.

  • I had a tympanoplasty with mastoidectomy wall down and ossicular chain reconstruction surgery 5 weeks ago. It was a badly diseased ear… My question for you guys are…. Were you dizzy? I still just have a very hard time walking or any sudden movements. my head continually swirls.

  • Has anyone had tympanoplasty at MAssachusetts Eye & Ear in Boston in 2015?

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