A tolerant spouse of a WiscMed staff member submitted to yet another ear exam. She has no prior history of ear trouble and no complaints of decreased hearing. She reports feeling well. What do you notice about this image that was obtained of her left ear?
The image of the ear shows prominent vasculature (blood supply).
This is especially noticeable on the malleus, but also on the ear canal and to some extent on the tympanic membrane (eardrum). The cause of this is unclear. Possible explanations could include mild trauma, inflammation, hydration status, body temperature, recent body position (supine vs upright), elevated blood pressure, and medications that dilate vasculature. In this case, none of these explanations seems plausible and we are left wondering about the cause.
A repeat image of the same ear taken the next day, 12 hours later, shows resolution. There does not appear to be any clinical significance to the transient prominent vasculature.