Ultrastructure of eustachian tube mucosa in chronic otitis media with cholesteatoma

Wen Yuan Chao, Sue Joan Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Acquaintance with the severity of inflammatory condition and mucociliary destruction of the protympanic eustachian tube (ET) mucosa may provide some insight for management during surgery for cholesteatoma. Materials and Methods: Protympanic eustachian mucosa was obtained from 25 patients undergoing ear surgery for cholesteatoma and from 5 cadavers undergoing dissection for a gross anatomy course. The specimens were processed for both scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Results: According to SEM, decreased ciliated cells were noted. Residual ciliated cells and numerous white blood cells (WBC) were noted in the protympanic mucosa of the eustachian orifice. Bacilli were commonly noted at the mucosal surface. Cilia might be collapsed and stagnated with mucus secretion. This finding was consistent with those of the TEM: that cilia of varied directions were embedded in mucus. Mucociliary function was impaired under such conditions. The mucosal alteration was severe in some children; there was no ciliated cell visible. According to the TEM, the mucosal cells contained numerous secretory granules and mitochondria. Polymorphous nuclear cells were noted in the submucosal area that was edematous. Compound cilia were rather common. Mucus blanket covered mucosal cells with widening intercellular spaces. In addition, neither cilia nor microvilli were visible in severe mucosal alteration. Conclusions: These occurrences indicated the presence of inflammatory reaction and impairment of clearance function of eustachian mucosa in cholesteatomatous ears. Thorough irrigation during surgery and antimicrobial therapy after surgery are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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