The preauricular sinus: a review of its clinical presentation, treatment, and associations

Pediatr Dermatol. 2004 May-Jun;21(3):191-6. doi: 10.1111/j.0736-8046.2004.21301.x.


Preauricular sinuses (ear pits) are common congenital abnormalities. Usually asymptomatic, they manifest as small dells adjacent to the external ear near the anterior margin of the ascending limb of the helix, most frequently on the right side. Preauricular sinuses can be either inherited or sporadic. When inherited, they show an incomplete autosomal dominant pattern with reduced penetrance and variable expression. They may be bilateral, increasing the likelihood of being inherited, in 25-50% of cases. Preauricular sinuses are features of other conditions or syndromes in 3-10% of cases, primarily in association with deafness and branchio-oto-renal (BOR) syndrome. When other congenital anomalies coexist with these sinuses, auditory testing and renal ultrasound should be considered. Sinuses may become infected, most commonly with gram-positive bacteria, in which case their exudates should be cultured and appropriate antibiotics administered. Recurrent infection is a clear indication for complete excision and provides the only definitive cure. Recurrence rates after surgery range from 9% to 42%. Meticulous excision by an experienced head and neck surgeon minimizes the risk of recurrence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / genetics*
  • Branchio-Oto-Renal Syndrome / genetics
  • Deafness / congenital
  • Deafness / genetics
  • Ear, External / abnormalities*
  • Ear, External / surgery
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Humans