Cholesterol Granuloma

Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Cholesterol Granuloma

A cholesterol granuloma is a cyst that is not benign and, in most parts of the body, is not harmful. However, if a cholesterol granuloma appears in a certain part of the skull, called the petrous apex, serious complications, such as hearing loss, damage to bones and nerve damage is possible.


Throughout the body, cholesterol granulomas can appear as the result of a foreign body.  In the petrous apex, the possible causes could include ear infections or a blow to the head.


In cholesterol granulomas in other parts of the body, there may be no symptoms whatsoever. This is not problematic because, as mentioned, earlier, these produce no serious effects.  There are, however, several possible symptoms associated with a cholesterol granuloma in the petrous apex.

These symptoms include hearing loss, usually only in one ear, numbness or twitching in the face, a ringing sound in the ears and dizziness.  Of course, all of these symptoms could be indicative of a number of issues, so it should not be assumed that cholesterol granuloma is the cause.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis must be made by an ear, nose and throat specialist.  A specialist is required, because it is not easy to tell the difference between a cholesterol granuloma and other types of lesions.

Once diagnosis has been made, the treatment will usually involve one of two things. Either the granuloma will be drained to lessen its impact on the surrounding bone and nerves or, if it is a large and troublesome, surgery to remove it completely may be required.

The good news is that the surgery is almost always done without making any incisions as the nasal cavity provides a direct route to the petrous apex.

If you have any of the above symptoms, and have not yet been issued a diagnosis, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of having a cholesterol granuloma. Keep in mind, these lesions are rare, but they do happen, particularly if you have been subject to any of the possible causes.

If you have already been diagnosed, and would like more information, there is a support group for people who have had cholesteatomas, which are similar – but not identical  - lesions. 

Much of the information available on the internet is written by and for medical professionals and is difficult for “lay people” to understand.   The best way to get all the information you need and want is to ask your doctor.

Because you will have a limited amount of time with your doctor at each visit, it is a good idea to jot down any questions that you have as you think of them. That way you won’t forget anything while you are talking with him.

Again, cholesterol granulomas are rare and should not be cause for concern. While an occurrence of such a lesion in the petrous apex can have potentially serious complications, if diagnosed and properly treated, the chance of such complications are very rare.

Pay attention to your health, and do not ignore symptoms such as hearing loss or dizziness. Even if it is not a cholesterol granuloma, such symptoms are not normal, and are an indication of a condition that will likely require medical attention.