PROFESSOR TONY WRIGHT, INSTITUTE OF LARYNGOLOGY & OTOLOGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PROFESSOR TONY WRIGHT, INSTITUTE OF LARYNGOLOGY & OTOLOGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Cholesteatoma of the eardrum, otoscope view. This condition is known as an attic cholesteatoma, where a mass of dead skin cells has accumulated in an attic retraction pocket. An attic retraction pocket is where the tympanic membrane (eardrum) has retracted in the region surrounding the top of the malleus (hammer) bone. A cholesteatoma (here, a wet one) is a complication of this condition, and can have serious consequences. A cholesteatoma can cause tissue erosion, damage to the inner ear, profound hearing loss, vertigo, facial nerve damage and palsy. In serious cases it can cause a brain abscess. If infected, the dead skin results in a foul-smelling discharge.
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