While much focus has been placed on short-term complications associated with cholesteatoma, a lack of knowledge remains about the impact suffering from cholesteatoma in childhood may have on educational outcome. The aim of the study was to investigate whether suffering from cholesteatoma in childhood has an influence on school performance in adolescence. All children born in Denmark between 1986–1991 with cholesteatoma surgery performed before the age of 15 years were included (cholesteatoma group). A control group consisting of a 5% random sample of all children born in Denmark during the same period was used for comparison. A total of 549 individuals met the inclusion criteria for the cholesteatoma group and 15,106 for the control group. Final marks (average, mathematics, Danish and English) achieved upon completion of lower secondary school (ninth grade; age 15 or 16 years) were compared between groups.
Cholesteatoma in childhood had no long-term effect on school performance for the majority who completed lower secondary school, in spite of periods with impaired hearing, sick days and other factors.
High parental education and female sex were strongly associated with performing well in school in adolescence. There is some evidence that more than one cholesteatoma operation may have some impact. This supports the view and is reassuring that children are relatively robust, at least on easily quantifiable measures, towards temporary challenges associated with middle ear problems!