Ear Canal Exostosis

What Is an Ear Canal Exostosis?

The ear canal is the funnel that directs sound into the ear. This is the first step of hearing sounds from our environment. The ear canal is made up of 2 parts. The first part has a cartilage framework. Deeper inside, the second part has a bony framework. An ear canal exostosis is an abnormal growth of this bony framework. These growths are benign, or noncancerous.

What Are the Symptoms of an Exostosis?

Most exostoses are asymptomatic. It could be noted during your routine physical. Large exostoses cause obstructive symptoms: recurring wax build up, swimmer’s ear, and hearing loss.

How Did I Get an Exostosis in the First Place?

An exostosis may occur spontaneously, but most are associated with chronic cold water exposure. Swimmers and especially surfers often get these. The colder the water and the longer the exposure, the more likely they form and the larger they become.

How Will My Doctor Test for an Exostosis?

A simple discussion of your symptoms combined with examination of your ear is enough to diagnose an exostosis. It is useful to obtain a hearing test as well. This allows your doctor to understand the effect on your hearing.

Are Exostoses Treatable?

Most exostoses do not require treatment. When excessive cerumen (ear wax) build up is present, routine cleanings can be scheduled for adequate management. When recurring infections or hearing loss are present, surgical management can be considered. A canalplasty is the procedure of choice. The excess bone of the ear canal is exposed and sculpted away. Occasionally, a skin graft may be needed to accommodate the newly open ear canal. Risks are minimal and this procedure usually improves hearing and decreases infections. Scheduled ear canal cleanings may be required after such a procedure.