Assessment and management of retraction pockets

Otolaryngol Pol. 2017 Feb 28;71(1):1-21. doi: 10.5604/01.3001.0009.5547.


This manuscript intends to review types, pathogenesis, associated risk factors, and potential methods of prevention and treatment of the retraction pockets in adults and children. The importance of retraction pockets (RP) lies in loss of original histological and anatomical structure which is associated with development of ossicular chain erosion, cho¬lesteatoma formation and potentially life threatening complications of cholesteatoma. The trans-mucosal exchange each gas in the middle ear (ME) is towards equalizing its partial pressures with the partial pressure in the environ¬ment. MEs that have abnormalities in the volume and ventilation pathways in the epitympanic may be more suscep¬tible to retraction pockets. Sustained pressure differences and/or inflammation leads to destruction of collagen fibers in the lamina propria. Inflammatory mediators and cytokines lead to release of collagenases result in viscoelastic properties of the lamina propria. The process of changes in the tympanic membrane structure may evolve to the cho¬lesteatoma formation. There are many different staging systems that clinicians prioritize in their decision making in the management of RP. The authors discuss the management possibilities in different clinical situations: RP without and with ongoing or intermittent evidence of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD), presence of adenoid hypertrophy or re-growth of adenoids, presence or absence of effusion, invisible depth of RP without effusion. invisible depth of RP with effusion, ongoing RP after VT insertion, and finally suspicion of cholesteatoma in a deep RP with ME effusion. A decision algorithm regarding the management of TM retraction and retraction pockets is provided.

Keywords: Eustachian tube; Retraction pocket; middle ear; tympanic membrane.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cholesteatoma, Middle Ear / pathology*
  • Cholesteatoma, Middle Ear / therapy*
  • Eustachian Tube / pathology*
  • Hearing Loss, Conductive / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Tympanic Membrane / pathology*