Learn About Mastoiditis

What is the definition of Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone of the skull. The mastoid bone is located just behind the ear.

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What are the causes of Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis is most often caused by a middle ear infection (acute otitis media). The infection may spread from the ear to the mastoid bone. The bone has a honeycomb-like structure that fills with infected material and may break down.

The condition is most common in children. Before antibiotics, mastoiditis was one of the leading causes of death in children. The condition does not occur very often today. It is also much less dangerous.

What are the symptoms of Mastoiditis?

Symptoms include:

  • Drainage from the ear
  • Ear pain or discomfort
  • Fever, may be high or suddenly increase
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Redness of the ear or behind the ear
  • Swelling behind the ear, may cause ear to stick out or feel as if it is filled with fluid
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What are the current treatments for Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis may be hard to treat because the medicine may not reach deeply into the bone. The condition sometimes requires repeated or long-term treatment. The infection is treated with antibiotic injections, followed by antibiotics taken by mouth.

Surgery to remove part of the bone and drain the mastoid (mastoidectomy) may be needed if antibiotic treatment does not work. Surgery to drain the middle ear through the eardrum (myringotomy) may be needed to treat the middle ear infection.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Mastoiditis?

Mastoiditis can be cured. However, it may be hard to treat and may come back.

What are the possible complications of Mastoiditis?

Complications may include:

  • Destruction of the mastoid bone
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Epidural abscess
  • Facial paralysis
  • Meningitis
  • Partial or complete hearing loss
  • Spread of infection to the brain or throughout the body
When should I contact a medical professional for Mastoiditis?

Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms of mastoiditis.

Also call if:

  • You have an ear infection that does not respond to treatment or is followed by new symptoms.
  • Your symptoms do not respond to treatment.
  • You notice any facial asymmetry.
How do I prevent Mastoiditis?

Prompt and thorough treatment of ear infections reduces the risk for mastoiditis.

Mastoiditis - side view of head
Mastoiditis - redness and swelling behind ear
Mastoidectomy - series - Normal anatomy
What are the latest Mastoiditis Clinical Trials?
Corticosteroids as an Additional Treatment for Mastoiditis In Children

Summary: The aim of the study is to assess the influence of adjuvant corticosteroid treatment in acute mastoiditis in children. we expect a better outcome in children treated with both corticosteroids and antibiotics including lower rates in complications and earlier decline in fever and inflammatory markers.

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What are the Latest Advances for Mastoiditis?
Epidemiology and variability in management of acute mastoiditis in children.
Complicated Trichosporon asahii mastoiditis in immunocompetent child.
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Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: May 30, 2022
Published By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Matlock AG, Pfaff JA. Otolaryngology. Matlock AG, In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 58.

Pelton SI. Otitis externa, otitis media, and mastoiditis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 61.