Cholesterol Granuloma Development following Temporal Bone Surgery

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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