Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Chronic mastoiditis means that there is mucous present in the cavity behind the middle ear.

Acute mastoiditis, by contrast, is an emergency. It is a complication of a middle ear infection, or 'otitis', usually found in a young child who is already very sick and for whom the outer ear has begun to swell because of the severe infection. If this is not treated urgently, the pus can make its way to the brain.

Diagnosis and treatment

Chronic mastoiditis is usually seen on a CT scan or NMR. If there are no symptoms, then this does not usually need to be treated.

For acute mastoiditis, there is usually rapid improvement after treatment with perioral or intravenous antibiotics, and, for some cases, after ear tubes are placed.

A mastoidectomy, during which the mastoid is cleaned out, is only necessary in specific cases.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 11/08/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith