Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Mastoiditis

Mastoiditis is an infection of the mastoid bone of the skull. The mastoid is located just behind the ear.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mastoiditis is usually caused by a middle ear infection (acute otitis media ). The infection may spread from the ear to the mastoid bone of the skull. The mastoid bone fills with infected materials and its honeycomb-like structure may deteriorate.

Mastoiditis usually affects children. Before antibiotics, mastoiditis was one of the leading causes of death in children. Now it is a relatively uncommon and much less dangerous condition.

Symptoms

Signs and tests

An examination of the head may reveal signs of mastoiditis. The following tests may show an abnormality of the mastoid bone:

A culture of drainage from the ear may show bacteria.

Treatment

Mastoiditis may be difficult to treat because medications may not reach deep enough into the mastoid bone. It may require repeated or long-term treatment. The infection is treated with antibiotics by injection, then antibiotics by mouth.

Surgery to remove part of the bone and drain the mastoid (mastoidectomy ) may be needed if antibiotic therapy is not successful. Surgery to drain the middle ear through the eardrum (myringotomy ) may be needed to treat the middle ear infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

Mastoiditis is curable with treatment. However, it may be hard to treat and may come back.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of mastoiditis.

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • You have an ear infection that does not respond to treatment or is followed by new symptoms
  • Your symptoms do not respond to treatment

Prevention

Promptly and completely treating ear infections reduces the risk of mastoiditis.

References

Chole RA, Sudhoff HH. Chronic otitis media, mastoiditis, and petrositis. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 139.

Klein JO. Otitis externa, otitis media, and mastoiditis. In:Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap57.

O’Handley JG, Tobin EJ, Shah AR. Otorhinolaryngology. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 19.

Updated: 8/30/2012

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com