Diagonal ear lobe crease and atherosclerosis: a review of the medical literature and dental implications

Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2012 Jan 1;17(1):e153-9. doi: 10.4317/medoral.17390.


In Spain a significant number of individuals die from atherosclerotic disease of the coronary and carotid arteries without having classic risk factors and prodomal symptoms. The diagonal ear lobe crease (DELC) has been characterized in the medical literature as a surrogate marker which can identify high risk patients having occult atherosclerosis. This topic however has not been examined in either the medical or dental literature emanating from Spain. The majority of clinical, angiography and postmortem reports support the premise that DELC is a valuable extravascular physical sign able to distinguish some patients at risk of succumbing to atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries. A minority of studies have however failed to support this hypothesis. More recently reports using B mode ultrasound have also linked DELC to atherosclerosis of the carotid artery and another report has related DELC to the presence of calcified carotid artery atheromas on panoramic radiographs. DELC is readily visible during head and neck cancer screening examinations. In conjunction with the patient's medical history, vital signs, and panoramic radiograph, the DELC may assist in atherosclerotic risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease / complications*
  • Ear, External / abnormalities*
  • Humans
  • Radiography, Panoramic*
  • Stomatognathic Diseases / complications*
  • Stomatognathic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*