Evaluation and management of middle ear trauma
- Adele Karen Evans, MD, FAAP
Adele Karen Evans, MD, FAAP
- Associate Professor of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
- Louisiana State University School of Medicine
- Steven D Handler, MD, MBE
Steven D Handler, MD, MBE
- Professor, Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery
- University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
- Section Editors
- Richard G Bachur, MD
Richard G Bachur, MD
- Section Editor — Pediatric Trauma
- Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine
- Harvard Medical School
- Maria E Moreira, MD
Maria E Moreira, MD
- Section Editor — Adult Trauma
- Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
- University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
- Residency Program Director
- Denver Health Residency in Emergency Medicine
- Deputy Editor
- James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH
- Senior Deputy Editor — UpToDate
- Deputy Editor — Adult and Pediatric Emergency Medicine
- Deputy Editor — Primary Care Sports Medicine (Adolescents and Adults)
- Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine/Traumatology
- University of Connecticut School of Medicine
The management of blunt or penetrating middle ear trauma will be reviewed here. The evaluation and management of ear barotrauma and temporal bone fractures are discussed separately. (See "Ear barotrauma" and "Skull fractures in children: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management" and "Skull fractures in adults".)
Middle ear injury or injury to adjacent inner ear structures or both occurs in up to one-third of patients with severe head trauma and over one-half of patients with temporal bone basilar skull fractures [1-3]. These injuries include hemotympanum (picture 1), hearing loss, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fistula, otic capsule injury, and traumatic perilymphatic fistula [1-5].
Otic capsule injury is four to five times more likely if temporal bone fracture occurs with facial nerve paralysis, CSF otorrhea, or both .
Middle ear injury may also occur after direct blunt trauma to the external auditory canal (eg, hand blow to ear ["boxed ears"], fall onto the ear while water or snow skiing, motor vehicle collision, sports injury [eg, wrestling]) or penetrating trauma (eg, Q-tip, matchstick injury, gunshot wound, welding or soldering spark) [3,4,6-10].
Barotrauma with middle ear injury can occur during air travel, scuba diving, or exposure to a blast. (See "Ear barotrauma", section on 'Etiology'.)To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- CLINICAL ANATOMY
- Middle ear
- Adjacent structures
- CLINICAL FEATURES
- Physical examination
- - Findings of middle ear injury
- - Facial nerve function
- Ancillary studies
- - Evaluation of ear or nose drainage
- - Tests of hearing
- - Computed tomography
- INDICATIONS FOR OTOLARYNGOLOGY CONSULTATION OR REFERRAL
- Initial stabilization
- Minimal hearing loss
- Marked hearing loss
- Child and elder protection
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS