Ear Canal Osteoma

What Is an Ear Canal Osteoma?

The ear canal is the funnel that directs sound into the ear. This is the first step of hearing sounds from our environment. The ear canal is made up of 2 parts. The first part has a cartilage framework. Deeper inside, the second part has a bony framework. An ear canal osteoma is an abnormal growth of this bony framework. These growths are benign, or noncancerous.

What Is the Difference Between an Ear Canal Exostosis and an Ear Canal Osteoma?

An exostosis arises from the front or back of the ear canal bone. It is sessile. This means it is more like a rolling hill. An osteoma arises from the suture lines of the ear canal. It is pedunculated. This means it hangs from a thin stalk much like the pendulum of an old clock.

What Are the Symptoms of an Osteoma?

Most osteomas are asymptomatic. It could be noted during your routine physical. Large osteomas cause obstructive symptoms: recurring wax build up, swimmer’s ear, and hearing loss.

How Did I Get an Osteoma in the First Place?

An osteoma may occur spontaneously, but most are associated with chronic cold water exposure. Swimmers and especially surfers often get these. The colder the water and the longer the exposure, the more likely they form and the larger they become.

How Will My Doctor Test for an Osteoma?

A simple discussion of your symptoms combined with examination of your ear is enough to diagnose an osteoma. It is useful to obtain a hearing test as well. This allows your doctor to understand the effect on your hearing.

Are Osteomas Treatable?

Most osteomas do not require treatment. When excessive cerumen (ear wax) build up is present, routine cleanings can be scheduled for adequate management. When recurring infections or hearing loss are present, surgical management can be considered. A canalplasty is the procedure of choice. The excess bone of the ear canal is exposed and sculpted away. Occasionally, a skin graft may be needed to accommodate the newly open ear canal. Risks are minimal and this procedure usually improves hearing and decreases infections. Scheduled ear canal cleanings may be required after such a procedure.