The disease recurrence rate after the canal wall up or canal wall down technique in adults

Laryngoscope. 2016 Apr;126(4):980-7. doi: 10.1002/lary.25591. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


Objectives/hypothesis: To review which type of cholesteatoma surgery, canal wall up (CWU) or canal wall down (CWD), provides the lowest risk for residual and/or recurrent disease in adults with primary acquired cholesteatoma.

Data sources: PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, Scopus and Web of Science.

Study design: We selected articles comparing CWU with CWD, reporting on disease recidivism (combined residual and recurrent disease) or independent residual or disease recurrence rates. We included studies with a moderate to high relevance.

Results: Our search yielded 2,060 articles. We selected seven studies that carried a moderate risk of bias. Six studies described higher disease recidivism after the CWU procedure [16.7-61.0%] compared to the CWD technique [0-13.2%]. Four studies showed statistical significant difference (P < .05). One study showed opposite results: recidivism was found in 7.8% CWU and in 22.1% CWD cases (P < .001). Studies showed CWU recidivism more likely to be residual disease, whereas CWD recidivism tended to be recurrent disease.

Conclusion: The majority of included studies showed CWU to result in more disease recidivism compared to the CWD technique in adult patients with a primary acquired cholesteatoma. If recidivism risk is the most important factor to consider a certain surgical technique, we recommend application of the CWD procedure. However, many additional factors in patient care will define the best treatment decision, such as residual hearing and access to health care. Our recommendations are based on Level II evidence, which underlines the need for future high-level evidence studies.

Keywords: Cholesteatoma; canal wall down; canal wall up; hearing loss; hearing outcome; recurrence; residual disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholesteatoma, Middle Ear / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery*
  • Neoplasm, Residual / surgery
  • Otologic Surgical Procedures / methods*