Objective: We reviewed our experience with childhood cholesteatoma in children under 15 years old. Based on cumulative postoperative data, we propose a modified canal-wall-up technique in conjunction with a planned, staged operation. Methods: From 1982 to 1997, 56 children with cholesteatoma (58 ears, total) underwent surgery in our department. In the early period (1982-1990), canal wall-down mastoidectomy was performed in 52% (21 of 40 ears), and canal wall-up mastoidectomy in 48% (the remaining 19 ears). In the late period (1991-1997), 18 ears with cholesteatoma underwent surgery. The canal-wall up mastoidectomy was performed in 89% (16 ears), and canal-wall-down mastoidectomy in the remaining 11% (two ears). Results: In the early period (1982-1990), cholesteatoma recurred more frequently in the canal-wall-up mastoidectomy group than in the canal-wall down mastoidectomy group (53 vs. 14%). Other postoperative complications, such as erosion of the mastoid cavity, otorrhea, and perforation of the eardrum, occurred more frequently in the canal-wall-down mastoidectomy group than in the canal-wall-up mastoidectomy group. In the late period (1991-1997), in the canal-wall-up mastoidectomy group, ten ears underwent one-stage surgery. Planned staged tympanoplasty was completed in six ears. After one-stage surgery, four of ten ears experienced residual cholesteatoma. Two of the recurrent ears had undergone planned staged tympanoplasty. As revealed by postoperative computed tomography (CT) images, 12 of 15 ears had aeration in the attic and antrum as well as in the tympanic cavity. In these cases, no attic retraction pocket formation was observed. Conclusion: Our strategy for pediatric cholesteatoma in the future is to use canal-wall-up mastoidectomy when possible. If aeration in the attic and antrum is observed by preoperative CT-scan image and no erosion in the malleus and incus exists, the one-stage surgery will be chosen. If no aeration is observed by CT-scan and/or erosion exists in the surgical findings, planned staged tympanoplasty will be necessary. This strategy allows a high incidence of aeration of the attic and antrum, and prevents the formation of the attic retraction pocket while enabling the early detection of residual cholesteatoma by means of CT.
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