Malignant external otitis: CT evaluation

Radiology. 1982 Nov;145(2):383-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.145.2.7134442.


Malignant external otitis is an aggressive infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa that most often occurs in elderly diabetics. Malignant external otitis often spreads inferiorly from the external canal to involve the subtemporal area and progresses medically towards the petrous apex leading to multiple cranial nerve palsies. The computed tomographic (CT) findings in malignant external otitis include obliteration of the normal fat planes in the subtemporal area as well as patchy destruction of the bony cortex of the mastoid. The point of exit of the various cranial nerves can be identified on CT scans, and the extent of the inflammatory mass correlates well with the clinical findings. Four cases of malignant external otitis are presented. In each case CT provided a good demonstration of involvement of the soft tissues at the base of the skull.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / etiology
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Otitis Externa / diagnostic imaging*
  • Otitis Externa / etiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / etiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*