Skip to main content

External Ear Chondritis/Abscess, Emergency Medicine

Assaad J. Sayah Reviewed 06/2017



Inflammation and/or infection of the pinna 


  • Mechanism:

    • Cartilage of the external ear is easily damaged due to:

      • Lack of overlying subcutaneous tissue

      • Relative avascularity

      • Exposed ...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Initially a dull pain that increases in severity

  • Fever

  • Chills


  • Ear trauma

  • Ear piercing

Physical Exam

  • Pinna:

    • Painful

    • Exquisite tenderness

    • Erythematous

    • Warmth

    • Loss of contours cau...


Ed Treatment/Procedures

General postinjury preventive measures: 
  • Prevention of chondritis is of utmost importance:

    • Difficult management and disfiguring potential

  • Avoid pressure to the injured ea...



Admission Criteria

  • Edema, erythema, and significant ear tenderness

  • Toxic patient with fever and chills

  • Immunocompromised patient

Discharge Criteria

Stable patient without systemic sign...

Pearls and Pitfalls

Aggressive early management may prevent gross ear deformity: 
  • Antibiotic regimen should cover for Pseudomonas.

Additional Reading

  • Fisher  CG, Kacica  MA, Bennett  NM. Risk factors for cartilage infections of the ear. Am J Prev Med.  2005;29(3):204–209.

  • Guss  J, Ruckenstein  MJ. Infections of the external e...



  • 380.03 Chondritis of pinna

  • 380.10 Infective otitis externa, unspecified


  • H60.00 Abscess of external ear, unspecified ear

  • H61.033 Chondritis of external ear, bilateral

  • H61.039 Chondritis of e...

Subscribe to Access Full Content

Sign Up for a 10-Day Free Trial

Sign up for a 10-day FREE Trial now and receive full access to all content.