OBJECTIVES: To analyze the clinical characteristics of cochlear fistulas (CFs) and propose a new fistula classification system with regard to the cochlea. MATERIALS and METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted between January 2008 and December 2015 to identify patients who had undergone surgery for cholesteatoma with an associated CF. The following data were collected: preoperative symptoms, findings of tem-poral bone computed tomography (TBCT), fistula stage, cholesteatoma classification, surgical technique, and pre-and postoperative pure-tone audiometry. RESULTS: We analyzed a total of 159 patients, out of which 9 (5.7%) were diagnosed with a CF. The average duration of the chronic otitis media was 19.8 years. Cholesteatomas that induced CF rarely existed in the nonaggressive state; recurrent otorrhea was observed in all but one of our subjects. All the patients with CF had a distinct origin of cholesteatoma that developed from the retraction of posterior pars tensa; further, 88.9% cholesteatomas extended to and filled the sinus tympani. Preoperative audiometry revealed total hearing loss in 4 (44.4%) patients. Further, five patients with residual hearing before surgery had stage I fistulas, and the bone conduction thresholds remained stable after surgery. CONCLUSION: Cochlear fistulas were often detected in patients with (1) a history of chronic otitis media (exceeding 10 years), (2) frequently recur-ring otorrhea, and (3) pars tensa cholesteatomas that extended to the posterior mesotympanum and filled the sinus tympani. Such patients can suffer from potentially severe and irreparable sensorineural hearing loss.
- Otitis media