Right Ear

Connecticut 9-year-old knew something was wrong. Three days after a routine day in the school playground, he felt something “foreign” in his right ear and persistent buzzing noises. Doctors who examine the boy’s ear at Yale-New Haven Hospital quickly ascertained the cause: An eight legged visitor, a tick, had taken up residence on his eardrum, which was clearly inflame.

Guidance from operative microscope

Removal of the tick with guidance from an operative microscope was attempt in the office; but the tick could not be removed,” Drs. David Kasle and Erik Waldman report in the May 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. So the boy (whose name was not release) was take surgery and place under general anesthesia.

This time, doctors could clearly see the tick’s feeding apparatus burrow into the eardrum membrane, although the underlying layer of this crucial hearing structure remain intact. Using a microscope to help guide them, surgeons use a tiny hook to disengage and remove the tick from the boy ear.

After extraction of the tick, the patient had no signs or symptoms suggestive of systemic illness, Kasle and Waldman reported. The boy’s hearing was unharmed and his eardrum has since healed. Two doctors well acquaint with the inner ear said it’s not uncommon to have unwanted visitors creep in.

Ear attracts the bugs

It’s a frequent occurrence,” said Dr. Darius Kohan, who directs otology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. They have often remove roaches, flies, all sort of bugs, including ticks, attach to the canal or eardrum. This occurs more often in children than adults, Kohan said. They believe the wax in the ear attracts the bugs and they get stuck behind hairs into the wax, or like in this case penetrate the skin or eardrum,” they said.
Dr. David Hiltzik, director of Head and Neck Surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City; also has also dealt with such cases and not just insects. As an otolaryngologist, in the last several months they have had to remove crayons, beads, batteries and even diamonds from the ear canal,” they note. Bugs and worms are less common; but cockroaches and maggots that have crawl in are also see from time to time. Kohan explain how they set out the remove the pests.
Fortunately, the bugs usually do not survive for long, and they are not difficult to remove,” they said. “For children, they take them to the operating room for sedation since it is difficult for them to cooperate in the office during a procedure. For adults, usually a local anesthetic in the ear is all they need. If the bug is alive, irrigating the ear with mineral oil and waiting 10 minutes usually suffices to kill them before they remove them under microscopic guidance or with endoscopes,” Kohan said.