Diagnosis and management of bilateral lipoma of the middle ear

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2023 Nov:174:111716. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2023.111716. Epub 2023 Sep 18.


Introduction: Middle ear lipomas are rare, accounting for less than 1% of all middle ear tumours. To our knowledge there have been only 16 reported patients with middle ear lipoma. Only one of these had bilateral congenital middle ear lipomas. The aim of this review is to comprehensive overview the diagnosis and management of congenital lipomas of the middle ear.

Methods: A literature review was performed searching multiple data bases, using the key words "middle ear", AND "lipoma", AND "congenital". A total of 116 articles were identified. One hundred were excluded on various criteria, leaving 16 articles for detailed review. Additionally, we report the second case of bilateral congenital middle ear lipoma.

Results: Based on this case report and literature review, the incidence of middle ear lipomas is greater in paediatric patients than in adult patients. Middle ear lipomas are distributed evenly between males and females. Three patients had recognised genetic syndromes, while five had prior ventilation tube placement. Clinically patients present with conductive hearing loss and middle ear effusions. In some cases, presence of a white or yellow mass behind the anterior aspect of the tympanic membrane is recognised. The most common location of the masses is in the anterosuperior quadrant of the middle ear, the site of predilection for small congenital cholesteatomas. An MRI scan is most useful in distinguishing between lipoma and cholesteatoma. All cases reported surgical excision of the middle ear lipoma. There was no evidence of recurrence noted up to 4 years follow up.

Conclusion: Though rare, congenital lipomas of the middle ear should be a differential diagnosis of a middle ear masses. Early identification can allow surgical lipoma resection with minimal disruption to the ossicular chain. Though there is currently no consensus regarding management, surgical removal and appropriate reconstruction of the ossicular chain if needed, is appropriate.

Keywords: Congenital; Imaging; Lipoma; Middle ear; Surgical.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cholesteatoma* / surgery
  • Ear Ossicles
  • Ear, Middle / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoma* / diagnosis
  • Lipoma* / pathology
  • Lipoma* / surgery
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tympanic Membrane / surgery