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Diagnosis and management of foreign bodies of the outer ear

Authors
Glenn C Isaacson, MD, FAAP
Aderonke Ojo, MD
Section Editor
Anne M Stack, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH

INTRODUCTION

Embedded earrings in the earlobe or cartilaginous portions of the pinna and external auditory canal (EAC) foreign bodies are common problems encountered by primary care and emergency physicians. Physical examination provides the diagnosis in most patients.

Successful removal of foreign bodies of the pinna requires appropriate analgesia using local anesthesia or procedural sedation. Local infection and perichondritis frequently complicate these foreign bodies.

Proper restraint, adequate illumination, and appropriate equipment are essential for successful extraction of foreign bodies of the EAC. Complex EAC foreign bodies (eg, button batteries, objects up against the tympanic membrane, or those associated with injury to the tympanic membrane or middle ear) warrant prompt referral to an otolaryngologist.

This topic discusses the diagnosis and management of foreign bodies of the outer ear. The evaluation and management of lacerations of the ear are discussed separately. (See "Assessment and management of auricle (ear) lacerations".)

FOREIGN BODIES OF THE PINNA

Clinical anatomy — Foreign bodies of the pinna usually arise from embedded pierced earrings. These may be located in the earlobe or the cartilaginous portions of the pinna (figure 1). Local contact dermatitis to gold-plated or metal alloy studs, poor hygiene, and constant pressure caused by fixing clips create local swelling at the piercing site. Subsequently, skin ischemia, inflammation, and decubitus ulcer formation develop along with penetration of a portion or the entire earring into the pinna [1,2].

                    

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Mon Mar 07 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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