Masked mastoiditis

G. Richard Holt, George A. Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


With the advent of broad-spectrum antibiotics, the clinical course of middle ear disease has been altered. One result has been the occasional suppression of the presenting signs and symptoms of mastoiditis secondary to acute middle ear disease, causing the clinician to have a false sense of security following apparent resolution of the middle ear infection. The course may be so insidious that the first awareness of the mastoiditis may be following presentation of an intracranial complication such as meningitis, lateral sinus thrombosis, or brain abscess. The authors report 9 patients seen in the past 5 years with masked mastoiditis, ranging in age from 4 months to 43 years. The presenting symptoms were all vague and non-classical; however, intracranial complications of meningitis, facial paralysis, brain abscess, and papilledema were present on admission in 7 patients, and another 2 patients had unsuspected epidural abscess upon surgical exploration. The mastoid radiographs were uniformly positive, while the CT scan was positive in 3/9 patients. All patients recovered following mastoidectomy and intracranial therapy except one patient who expired after brain herniation. The clinician is urged to maintain a high suspicion of masked mastoiditis in the high-risk patient, including newborn, diabetic, elderly, immunosuppressed or debilitated patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1034-1037
Number of pages4
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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