Benign ear cysts are noncancerous lumps or growths in the ear.
They commonly occur:
The exact cause is unknown, but cysts may occur when oils are produced in a skin gland faster than they can be released from the gland.
Benign bony tumors of the ear canal (exostoses and osteomas) may be caused by excess growth of bone. Repeated exposure to cold water may increase the risk of benign bony tumors of the ear canal.
The symptoms of cysts include:
The symptoms of benign tumors include:
Note: There may be no symptoms.
Benign cysts and tumors are usually discovered during a routine ear examination, which can include hearing tests (audiometry) and middle ear testing (tympanometry). When looking into the ear, the doctor may see cysts or benign tumors in the ear canal.
Sometimes a CT scan is needed.
This disease may also affect the results of the following tests:
If the cyst or tumor is not painful and does not interfere with hearing, treatment is not necessary.
If a cyst becomes painful, it may be infected. Treatment may include antibiotics or removal of the cyst.
Benign bony tumors may progressively increase in size. If a benign tumor is painful, interferes with hearing, or leads to frequent ear infections, surgery to remove the tumor may be necessary.
Benign ear cysts and tumors are usually slow-growing and may disappear on their own.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have:
Osteomas; Exostoses; Tumor - ear; Cysts - ear; Ear cysts; Ear tumors; Bony tumor of the ear canal
O’Handley JG, Tobin EJ, Shah AR. Otorhinolaryngology. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 19.
Nicolai P, Castelnuovo P. Benign tumors of the sinonasal tract. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 49.
Warren FM III, Shelton C, Wiggins RH III. Neuroradiology of the temporal bone and skull base. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 135.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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