What are the mortality rates associated with treated and untreated necrotizing otitis externa (OE), and when should this complication be suspected?

Updated: Mar 09, 2020
  • Author: Ariel A Waitzman, MD, FRCSC; Chief Editor: Ravindhra G Elluru, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

When necrotizing OE develops, mortality is in the 20% range among adults, mostly because of the associated comorbidities and the rapid extension of the infection to include sepsis or intracranial extension. If left untreated, necrotizing OE has a mortality approaching 50%. This complication should be suspected if the patient’s pain and tenderness seem out of proportion to clinical appearance or if granulation tissue is seen in the ear canal.


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