Original Article

Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 464-473

First online:

MRI for the diagnosis of recurrent middle ear cholesteatoma in children—can we optimize the technique? Preliminary study

  • Anne GeoffrayAffiliated withFondation Lenval Email author 
  • , Myriam GuesmiAffiliated withFondation Lenval
  • , Jean François NebbiaAffiliated withFondation Lenval
  • , Béatrice LeloutreAffiliated withFondation Lenval
  • , Sonanda BailleuxAffiliated withFondation Lenval
  • , Claude MaschiAffiliated withFondation Lenval

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Recurrent cholesteatoma after surgical excision occurs frequently in children. Until recently, a surgical second look was mandatory and considered as standard reference. MRI including a delayed T1 sequence after gadolinium injection and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) has proved its efficiency but has been evaluated mainly in adults.


Our purpose was to evaluate the accuracy of DWI to diagnose recurrence of cholesteatoma in children.

Materials and methods

We evaluated prospectively with MRI 20 ears in 18 children who had had surgery for cholesteatoma. We compared DWI and delayed T1-weighted images following gadolinium administration with intraoperative or follow-up findings. We calculated the sensitivity and specificity of each sequence for the diagnosis of recurrent cholesteatoma.


Sensitivity to diagnose recurrent cholesteatoma was 87% for both DWI and delayed post-gadolinium sequences, specificity was 71% and 83%, respectively. Adding both sequences, the sensitivity was 87%, the specificity 100%. There was one false negative probably due to small size recurrence.


In our series, DWI was reliable to diagnose recurrent cholesteatoma in children and allows avoiding surgery when negative. However, because small recurrences less than 5 mm may be missed, follow-up must be prolonged (5 years).


MRI Cholesteatoma Child Diffusion-weighted MRI