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Rethinking auricular trauma.

Laryngoscope 2005 July
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: An unrecognized auricular hematoma can lead to a disfiguring deformity, the cauliflower ear, but it can be prevented with prompt and comprehensive management. Fine needle aspiration with pressure bandages remains the mainstay treatment but will occasionally fail. We review our experience with recurrent or recalcitrant auricular hematomas in terms of their pathophysiology and revision surgery.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

METHODS: A review of patients undergoing surgical incision, drainage, and debridement secondary to recurrent auricular hematomas was conducted. Demographic data was collected, intraoperative notes were reviewed, and follow-up results were obtained. Our management included an open incision, aggressive debridement, and long term bolsters to the ear.

RESULTS: Ten patients presented with a persistent auricular hematoma and deformity following outpatient management with either incision and drainage or fine needle aspiration. All were male with a mean age of 25 years, presenting for surgery on average 19 days following initial trauma. The location of the hematoma within this group was not limited to the potential space between the cartilage and perichondrium. The hematoma was clearly located within the cartilage itself and it is postulated that this is one of the primary reasons for initial failure. Following surgical incision and drainage there were no recurrences or complications.

CONCLUSION: There is a select group of patients with refractory auricular hematomas that require more aggressive treatment over a fine needle aspiration. Open debridement is indicated for this group. The location of the hematoma, granulation tissue, and neo-cartilage is found to be within the cartilage itself rather than between the cartilage and perichondrium, thus explaining why a needle aspiration alone can be ineffective.

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