A 17-year-old male presents to the emergency department with foot pain. As part of a complete physical examination, this image of his right eardrum is obtained using the Wispr Digital Otoscope. He has no ear or hearing complaints. What caused the circular pattern seen in the inferior portion of the eardrum?
The circular pattern is from a prior history of tympanostomy tubes. Ear tubes are often placed in children who have recurrent ear infections. Read our prior Interesting Image on tympanostomy tubes. The ear tubes eventually fall out and after the eardrum heals, there can be evidence of the prior placement, as in this image.
In addition to the circular healing area, the patient also has myringosclerosis (the 2 white areas). Sclerosis is a hint that he experienced ear infections as a child. The area of ear tube healing and sclerosis typically have no significant effect on hearing.
History of tympanostomy tubes (ear)
The patient’s left ear had a similar finding of post-tympanostomy tube healing and sclerosis as seen in this image: