Auricular complications in parotid, temporal bone, infratemporal fossa, and lateral skull base surgery | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Auricular complications in parotid, temporal bone, infratemporal fossa, and lateral skull base surgery

| Reprints
February 20, 2017
by Patrick S. Carpenter, MD; Ryan C. Burgette, MD; John P. Leonetti, MD; Sam J. Marzo, MD

Abstract

Neoplasms located in the parotid region, temporal bone, infratemporal fossa, and lateral skull base represent a challenge due to their difficult anatomic location and surrounding neurovascular structures. A variety of surgical approaches are appropriate to access this area, although several of them can place the auricular blood supply in danger. If the auricular blood supply is compromised, ischemia and, eventually, avascular necrosis of the auricle can occur. Auricular necrosis often can cause patients a delay in adjuvant radiation therapy and result in the need for additional reconstructive procedures. Therefore, it is imperative to identify risk factors associated with the development of this disabling complication. We conducted a retrospective review of 32 individuals undergoing treatment of benign and malignant lesions in the parotid gland, infratemporal fossa, and lateral skull base. To identify potential risk factors for auricular necrosis, the patients were analyzed based on the type of neoplasm (malignant or benign), risk factors affecting blood flow (diabetes mellitus, smoking history, prior radiation, prior surgery), body mass index, and the length of surgery. In our population examined, 3 instances of auricular necrosis occurred. None of the potential risk factors proved to be statistically significant (although malignant pathology approached significance at p = 0.07). Two of the patients required an auriculectomy with reconstruction. The third had multiple postoperative clinic visits for surgical debridement. Although no potential risk factors were statistically significant, surgeons should remain cognizant of the auricular blood supply while performing surgery via preauricular and postauricular approaches to this area.

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