Otology is a branch of medicine which studies normal and pathological anatomy and physiology of the ear (hearing and vestibular sensory systems and related structures and functions) as well as its diseases, diagnosis and treatment. Some of the concerns of otology include: treatment of ear infections, cholesteatomas, tumors and facial nerve diseases.
Otitis externa (also known as “External otitis” and “Swimmer’s ear”) is an inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal. Inflammation of the skin of the ear canal is the essence of this disorder. The inflammation can be secondary to dermatitis (eczema) only, with no microbial infection, or it can be caused by active bacterial or fungal infection. In either case, but more often with infection, the ear canal skin swells and may become painful or tender to touch.
Otitis media (Latin for “inflammation of the middle ear”) is the medical term for middle ear infection. The types of Otitis media are Acute otitis media, Otitis media with effusion, Chronic suppurative otitis media and Adhesive otitis media. In children, Acute otitis media, Otitis media with effusion are more common while Chronic suppurative otitis media is common in adults.
Cholesteatoma is a destructive and expanding growth consisting of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear and/or mastoid process. There are two types: congenital and acquired. Acquired cholesteatomas, which are more common, can be caused by pathological alteration of the ear drum leading to accumulation of keratin within the middle ear. Less commonly the disease may be a developmental abnormality, when it grows from birth behind the ear drum, in the form of a keratin-filled cyst.
Mastoiditis is the result of an infection that extends to the air cells of the skull behind the ear. Specifically, it is an inflammation of the mucosal lining of the mastoid antrum and mastoid air cell system inside the mastoid process, that portion of the temporal bone of the skull that is behind the ear and which contains open, air-containing spaces. Untreated, the infection can spread to surrounding structures, including the brain, causing serious complications.