A cholesteatoma is an abnormal skin growth most commonly found in the area of the middle ear behind the eardrum. It may be a birth defect, but is more often caused by repeated middle ear infections. A cholesteatoma is noncancerous and commonly develops as a cyst, or sac, which sheds dead skin cells. This creates an ideal environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive, which can cause infection, inflammation and ear drainage.
Cholesteatomas don’t usually go away naturally. They will often continue to grow and if left untreated, can damage the delicate structures of the middle ear.