A pediatric resident brought her father to visit the WiscMed booth at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 annual conference. He is a 75-year-old gentleman with no hearing complaints other than occasional difficulty “hearing my wife.” He told WiscMed staff that he had been told he had an “interesting” finding in his left ear. He has been aware of the “finding” for a long time.
The gentleman has exostosis of the left ear canal. No action is necessary.
Exostosis is a benign growth of bone, in this case in the ear canal. It is a common finding and generally of no clinical significance. Classically, exostosis is associated with cold water exposure, such as surfing. Prolonged exposure to cold seawater is thought to induce an inflammation cascade that results in osteoblast activity. This individual did not have a history of repeated exposure to cold water. Exostosis can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on how much of the external canal is blocked. If exostosis is severe enough, it can cause hearing loss and make the ear susceptible to otitis externa. In those cases, surgical removal of the bony overgrowth may be required.
Further information on exostosis may be found here.