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
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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.

Revision Information

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