Clinical characteristics of patients with cochlear fistulas caused by chronic otitis media with cholesteatoma

Woongsang Sunwoo, Sang Youp Lee, Jeon Seong, Young Eun Han, Min Hyun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of International Advanced Otology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Cholesteatoma
  • Classification
  • Cochlea
  • Fistula
  • Otitis media

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