Isolated Incudostapedial Cholesteatomas: Unique Radiologic and Surgical Features.

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Congenital cholesteatomas originate from epithelial tissue present within the middle ear in patients with an intact tympanic membrane, no history of otologic surgery, otorrhea, or tympanic membrane perforation. They are diagnosed by a pearl-like lesion on otoscopy and computed tomography (CT) scan showing an expansile soft-tissue mass. We describe a series of patients with no prior otologic history presenting with progressive unilateral conductive hearing loss and normal otoscopy. The CT scans showed ossicular erosion without obvious soft-tissue mass. Surgery confirmed incudostapedial erosion found to be cholesteatoma. In this study, we characterize the clinical course of patients diagnosed with isolated incudostapedial cholesteatoma (IIC) and review possible pathologic mechanisms.Retrospective review of IIC cases treated by the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, 2014 to 2020. Data included patient demographics, clinical features, imaging, surgical findings, and audiologic data.Five patients were diagnosed with IIC (3 [60%] female; mean age at presentation 10.7 years [range 5.5-16.0]). All patients presented with postlingual unilateral conductive hearing loss and normal otoscopy without any past otologic history; delay in diagnosis ranged from 4 months to several years. The CT scans showed ossicular chain erosion with an absent long process of the incus and/or stapes superstructure. All patients underwent middle ear exploration, revealing a thin layer of cholesteatoma in the incudostapedial region, confirmed by histopathology. Mean preoperative speech reception threshold was 55 dB and improved to a mean of 31 dB in the 4 patients who underwent ossicular chain reconstruction.Isolated incudostapedial cholesteatoma should be included as a possible etiology in pediatric patients with insidious onset of unilateral conductive hearing loss with normal otoscopy, unremarkable otologic history, and a CT scan showing ossicular abnormality/disruption without notable middle ear mass. These patients should be counseled preoperatively regarding the possibility of cholesteatoma and should undergo middle ear exploration with possible ossiculoplasty.

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