Cholesteatoma is a destructive and expanding growth consisting of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear and/or mastoid process. Cholesteatomas are not cancerous as the name may suggest, but can cause significant problems because of their erosive and expansile properties. This can result in the destruction of the bones of the middle ear (ossicles), as well as growth through the base of the skull into the brain. They often become infected and can result in chronically draining ears. Treatment almost always consists of surgical removal.