Risk factors for cartilage infections of the ear

Am J Prev Med. 2005 Oct;29(3):204-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2005.06.003.


Background: Investigation and case-control study to identify risk factors in a large outbreak in 2003 of auricular chondritis associated with piercing.

Methods: Epidemiologic, environmental, and laboratory (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis) investigation, and case-control study. Telephone interviews were conducted for 15 cases and 61 controls. Odds ratios were determined for risks of infection.

Results: Of 15 confirmed cases, nine (60%) were hospitalized (median duration 4.4 days) and treated with intravenous/oral antibiotics. Cases required surgical treatment and multiple antibiotics. Risk factors for infection included piercing location and the use of a contaminated aftercare solution. Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates, nine from patients and four from the aftercare solution, were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; one from the sink at the facility differed by two bands.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the serious consequences of cartilage piercing, identifies specific risk factors for infection, and suggests the importance of implementation and assurance of safe procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Piercing / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ear Cartilage / immunology
  • Ear Cartilage / microbiology
  • Ear Cartilage / physiopathology*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pseudomonas Infections / epidemiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires