European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 276, Issue 2, pp 611–612 | Cite as

Fluid signal in the mastoid is a common incidental finding on MRI of the brain

  • J. GossnerEmail author
Short Communication


Incidental findings are common on patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. Fluid signal in the mastoid can be such an incidental finding on MRI of the brain. In only a small number of patients, this relates to inflammatory disease of the middle ear or mastoid. In a small retrospective study, the prevalence of this finding has been studied. Fluid signal in the mastoid was found in 21 out of 84 patients (25%). Only in two patients MRI revealed a cause for the mastoid fluid (mastoid osteolysis in a patient with metastatic breast cancer and presumed recurrent cholesteatoma in another patient). Two patients reported about longstanding presbyacusis. At the initial examination, none of the patients reported symptoms of an inflammatory otological disease, and clinical examination was unremarkable in all patients. In conclusion, fluid signal in the mastoid seems to be a frequent incidental finding in asymptomatic patients. A diagnosis of mastoiditis should only be made if there are distinct clinical findings.


Magnetic resonance imaging Mastoid Fluid signal Mastoiditis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional RadiologyEvangelisches Krankenhaus Göttingen-WeendeGöttingenGermany

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