Which imaging studies are useful in the diagnosis of otitis externa (OE)?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Imaging studies are not required for most cases of OE. However, radiologic investigation may be helpful if an invasive infection such as necrotizing (malignant) OE is suspected or if the diagnosis of mastoiditis is being considered.

Imaging modalities may include the following:

  • High-resolution computed tomography (CT) - Preferred; better depicts bony erosion [5]
  • Radionucleotide bone scanning
  • Gallium scanning
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - Not used as often as the other modalities; may be considered secondarily or if soft-tissue extension is the predominant concern [6]

See Workup for more detail.

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