Perichondritis of the Outer Ear
Auricular perichondritis is inflammation of the skin and tissues that surround the cartilage of the outer ear (auricle). Perichondritis is typically caused by an injury to the ear, with the most significant risk factor being piercing of the ear cartilage. Other causes of injury include ear surgery, contact sports, burns, and acupuncture. Relapsing perichondritis may be an autoimmune condition where the inflammatory response is abnormally targeting the tissues of the outer ear. The most common symptom of perichondritis is a painful, red ear. Fever and/or fluid drainage from the wound site may also occur.
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for perichondritis. The antibiotics can either be given orally or through an IV directly into the bloodstream. If there is pus trapped at the site of infection, we may perform surgery to drain this fluid and remove any dead skin or cartilage. If the infection is not treated early enough, perichondritis can become chondritis, which is infection of the cartilage. In this case, the damaged portion of the cartilage would need to be removed. Cosmetic surgery may be necessary to return the outer ear to a normal shape. For patients with autoimmune conditions, oral and/or intravenous steroids may be required along with a referral to Rheumatology.
Why Choose Us
- Dr. Abraham Jacob, Medical Director for Ear & Hearing (E&H) at the Center for Neurosciences (CNS), is fellowship trained in Otology, Neurotology, and Cranial Base Surgery. He is the first and most experienced Neurotologist in Tucson.
- Dr. Jacob was a founding member of the University of Arizona (UA) Department of Otolaryngology prior to his departure and transition to CNS. At UA, he was Vice Chair of ENT and held the rank of full Professor with Tenure. He has an international reputation as an expert for treating ear diseases.
- Dr. Jacob transitioned his practice to the Center for Neurosciences in early 2017 as he felt that the new environment helped him to optimize delivery of personalized ear and lateral skull base care.
- As an Otologist/Neurotologist, Dr. Jacob is experienced at both recognizing perichondritis/chondritis and treating it effectively. Should antibiotics and steroids be insufficient, infection may become trapped between the perichondrium and cartilage. In this situation, Dr. Jacob is able to incise and drain such fluid collections, reinforcing that this condition may require both medical and surgical expertise in its management. If the disease is autoimmune (relapsing polychondritis), appropriate referrals to Rheumatologists is straightforward.