Foreign Body – Ear Bud

Foreign Body – Ear Bud

An emergency physician visited the WiscMed booth at the 2021 American College of Emergency Physicians in Boston. A demonstration of the Wispr was performed on his ear. This image was obtained.


The emergency physician has a retained foreign body in his ear.

This was a surprising finding to both the emergency physician (EP) and to Alex Bach, the WiscMed staff member who discovered the foreign body during the routine demonstration of the Wispr digital otoscope. After seeing the foreign body, the emergency physician had this to say:

I’m ashamed to say that has likely been in my ear since August 2018. I used to run with in-ear headphones and one day part of it broke off in my ear. I thought I got it out but started to develop ear pain a few days later. I had my girlfriend (who is an Internal Medicine resident!) look in my ear with a cheap otoscope I owned from medical school at one point and she said she didn’t see anything (I have confronted her about this and informed her I plan on suing). For a long time afterwards I would have intermittent ear pain made worse with manipulation or if I was exercising or sweating. For a while I could not sleep on my right ear. I thought I had ruled out foreign body based on my girlfriend’s exam and was attributing my symptoms to bruxism. Stereotypically I never sought medical care. My ear feels a lot better now. Really glad I came across your booth!

WiscMed staff had a good laugh at his good-natured “history of present illness.”

Here are several other examples of foreign bodies from devices designed for use in the ear. It makes one question why a manufacturer would ever design something for the ear that has a removable tip at the end!

The foreign body was uneventfully removed with alligator forceps at the WiscMed booth. This was perhaps one of the few times a needed medical procedure was performed at a national trade show. After removal, there was mild irritation of the external auditory canal, but otherwise, the tympanic membrane was normal.

Foreign Body Removed


Here is a complete video of the exam. Interestingly, it is possible to see a normal malleus “thru” the annulus of the retained foreign body.

Complete exam video