Benign Ear Growth

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

A benign ear growth is any abnormal growth on the ear that does not indicatecancer. It can be caused by many different conditions.

What is going on in the body?

The most common type of benign ear growth is a cyst. A cyst is a closedsac that can be filled with matter. Cysts often form in the space behind theeardrum.

Benign ear tumors are another cause of a benign ear growth. These tumors comefrom the tissues that form the ear. A benign tumor is not cancer.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Some cysts may be due to inherited problems. Problems with the ear drainagetubes, chronic ear infections, or other ear inflammation can also cause cysts to develop. The cause for most benign ear tumors is not known.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

A benign ear growth may cause no symptoms at all. The most common symptom is agradual decline in hearing, or hearing impairment. A person mayalso have drainage of infected material from the ear occasionally.

Pressure ona nerve supplying the face may result in a loss of the sense of taste. If thegrowth presses on the inner ear, the person may have a loss of balance, as wellas vertigo. Vertigo gives a person the feeling that the room is spinning around. This feeling is worsened when the person turnsor moves suddenly.

Diagnosis & Tests

How is the condition diagnosed?

Benign ear tumors or cysts in the ear canal or middle ear can be seen duringexamination. A biopsy may be needed. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a pieceof tissue for analysis. Hearing tests can help find any hearing loss that ispresent. A special X-ray test may be needed if surgery is planned.

Prevention & Expectations

What can be done to prevent the condition?

If the cause is genetic, there is no way to prevent benign ear cysts. Those who have problems with eardrainage tubes may need surgery to improve or bypass the tube. Surgeryto remove an overgrowth of tissue in the upper part of the throat may help insome cases.

Treating allergies, ear infections or otitis, and chronic sinusinfections may also help prevent cysts. An ear tube, orartificial tube to equalize pressure, may need to be inserted into the ear.

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Long-term effects of a benign ear growth may be minimal. If the ear growth isnot treated, it may result in a permanent hearing impairment.There can also be frequent ear infections of the ear canal, known as chronicotitis externa.Cysts may also cause chronic middle ear infections, or chronic otitismedia, and hearing impairments.

What are the risks to others?

Benign ear growths are not contagious and pose no risks to others.

Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

A benign ear tumor with no symptoms needs to be watched. Surgery may be neededif there is hearing impairment or chronic otitisexterna.

Treatment for some ear cysts requires surgery. If they are small, they can beremoved through the ear canal. If they are large, the base of the skull must beopened. The eardrum is lifted and the cyst is removed. Some cysts may returnafter surgery. Sometimes additional reconstructive surgery is needed.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction toanesthesia. Other possible side effects include hearing impairments, perforation of the eardrum,vertigo, or damage to a facial nerve.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Antibiotic and corticosteroid ear drops are often used to help the skin in the ear canalheal. If benign tumors are removed from the eardrum or the middle earspace, the ear canal is packed with materials and ointments. Repeat visits tothe surgeon to remove the material and check on healing may be needed.

How is the condition monitored?

After a benign ear growth is removed, no further treatment is necessary in mostcases. Hearing tests two to three months after the operation can detecthearing impairment. The person’s healthcare provider may also checkperiodically to see if another growth has developed.

Those with certain types of cysts need to be followed closely, because the problemcan return. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcareprovider at once.

Article type: xmedgeneral