Malignant Otitis Externa: Causes for Various Treatment Responses

J Int Adv Otol. 2020 Apr;16(1):98-103. doi: 10.5152/iao.2020.7709.


Objectives: Malignant (necrotizing) otitis externa (MOE) is an aggressive form of skin inflammation of the external ear with a tendency to spread infection to the temporal bone. The study aimed to evaluate a causal relationship between treatment responses and clinical features in patients with MOE.

Materials and methods: In a retrospective, descriptive section study, the database was analyzed between January 2008 and December 2018 in our department, all patients with diagnosed MOE were identified.

Results: A total of 30 patients were evaluated, of which 27 men and 3 women. The youngest patient was 52 years old while he was eldest 88 years, (mean-71 years old). As the most common comorbidity, diabetes mellitus was found in 23 (76%) subjects. Median duration of symptoms was about 3 months. The most common isolated pathogen was Pseudomonas aeruginosa (47%). Patients with facial nerve palsy and erosion of temporal bone find on computerized tomography affect prolonged stationary treatment (Mean, SD 29.2±8.5 and 26,7±11.6 days), while 80% of patients with facial nerve palsy had recurrence of disease (p=0.005) with mean duration of clinical remission of 60±17.3 days. Overall length of treatment is also increased in the presence of comorbidities as well as in patients with cranial nerve involvement.

Conclusion: Patients with cranial nerve involvement, erosion of temporal bone and presence of comorbidities affect prolonged treatment and adverse prognosis. Early diagnosis and initiation of aggressive therapy are essential for stopping the further spread of the disease and prevention of serious complications.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Ear, External / pathology*
  • Facial Paralysis / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis / etiology*
  • Necrosis / pathology
  • Necrosis / therapy
  • Otitis Externa / complications
  • Otitis Externa / microbiology
  • Otitis Externa / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Pseudomonas Infections / complications
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Bone / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents