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Malignant otitis externa

  • Alternative Names

    Osteomyelitis of the skull; Otitis externa - malignant

    • Drainage from the ear - yellow, yellow-green, foul smelling, persistent
    • Ear pain - felt deep inside the ear and may get worse when moving head
    • Hearing loss
    • Itching of the ear or ear canal
    • Fever
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Weakness in the face
    • Voice loss

    Signs and tests

    A doctor will look into your ear for signs of an outer ear infection (otitis externa). The head around and behind the ear may be tender to touch. A nervous system (neurological) examination may show that the cranial nerves are affected.

    If there is any drainage, the doctor may send it to the lab for a culture. The purpose of the culture is to look for bacteria or fungi, usually the bacteria Pseudomonas.

    To look for signs of a bone infection next to the ear canal, the following tests may be performed:

    • CT scan of the head
    • MRI scan of the head
    • Radionuclide scan