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Mastoiditis

(Acute mastoiditis)

Definition

Mastoiditis is swelling or infection of the small air cells in the mastoid bone of the ear. Over time, this can cause the bone tissue to break down.

Causes

Mastoiditis is most often caused by a bacterial infection due to a long lasting middle ear infection .
The Middle Ear
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Risk Factors

This problem is more common in young children. Things that may raise the risk are:
  • A weak immune system
  • Recent surgery to remove diseased mastoid air cells

Symptoms

Problems may be:
  • Swelling and redness behind the ear, pushing it forward
  • Fever
  • Ear pain
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Irritability
  • Decreased hearing

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked about your history of ear infections. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment options are:

Medicine

Antibiotics will be given to treat infection. This is often done by IV and then by mouth.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed when medicine does not help. This can be done with:
  • Myringotomy and tympanostomy to drain fluid and place tubes in the ear to keep the middle ear open to prevent fluid build-up
  • Mastoidectomy to remove the mastoid bone

Prevention

Mastoiditis is most often caused by an ear infection. Getting treated for an ear infection may lower the risk of mastoiditis.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
http://entnet.org
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
http://www.entcanada.org
Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

References

Acute mastoiditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-mastoiditis . Updated July 11, 2018. Accessed December 3, 2019.
Kordeluk S, Kraus M, et al. Challenges in the management of acute mastoiditis in children. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2015 May;17(5):479.
Mastoiditis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/middle-ear-and-tympanic-membrane-disorders/mastoiditis. Updated March 2019. Accessed December 3, 2019.
Mastoiditis. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mastoiditis/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Updated January 13, 2017. Accessed December 3, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019
  • Update Date: 12/03/2019
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