Cholesterol granuloma development following temporal bone surgery

Alex D. Sweeney, L. Mariel Osetinsky, Jacob B. Hunter, David S. Haynes, Matthew L. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective To describe the clinical presentation and management of patients with cholesterol granulomas (CGs) that develop following temporal bone surgery. Study Design Case series with chart review. Setting Two independent tertiary academic referral centers. Subjects and Methods A multicenter retrospective review was performed to identify all patients between 2001 and 2014 who were diagnosed with a CG that developed following temporal bone surgery. Patients with a history of idiopathic petrous apex CGs were excluded, as were those with <6 months of follow-up after diagnosis. Demographic and clinical data were recorded at presentation, and the main outcome measure was symptom evolution over time. Results A total of 20 patients met inclusion criteria (median age, 55.0 years; 70.0% female), and their cases were analyzed. Diagnosis was made, on average, 149.5 months (median, 94.5; range, 13.0-480.0) following a temporal bone operation, which was for chronic ear disease in 75.0% of cases. The most common presenting symptoms were otalgia (55.0%) and otorrhea (40.0%). In patients initially managed with observation, 71.4% required no surgical intervention through a mean of 56.8 months (median, 30; range, 12.0-178.0) of follow-up. For those who initially underwent surgical excision, durable symptom relief was achieved in 66.7% of cases. Conclusion Postoperative CG formation in the temporal bone is a rare occurrence that can be encountered years following surgery. The present study suggests that conservative management can be appropriate for many cases in which patients are relatively asymptomatic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1120
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • cholesterol granuloma
  • skull base
  • temporal bone
  • tympanomastoidectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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