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Diagnosis and management of a tympanic membrane hemangioma

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June 14, 2016
by Glen Watson, MBBS, FRCS; Amanda McSorley, MBChB, BSc, MRCS; Vivek Kaushik, MBBS, FRCS, DLO


Vascular tumors arising in the temporal bone represent 0.7% of all lesions in this area. Hemangiomas confined to the tympanic membrane are exceptionally rare. We report a new case of tympanic membrane hemangioma that arose in 59-year-old man who presented with a 2-month history of constant right-sided pulsatile tinnitus and associated neck discomfort. The lesion and a cuff of healthy tympanic membrane were excised, and the resulting defect was repaired with a temporalis fascia graft. At 3 months, the neotympanum was well healed and the patient's symptoms had resolved. We also review the limited number of previously published cases of tympanic membrane hemangioma, and we discuss the presentation and management of these lesions. Some tympanic hemangiomas are asymptomatic and others present as hearing loss, tinnitus, otalgia, and/or otorrhea. Pure-tone audiometry and high-resolution computed tomography of the temporal bones are essential to determine the extent of the lesion. An excisional biopsy is recommended because it is curative and it provides histologic confirmation of the diagnosis. Excision requires elevation of a tympanomeatal flap, en bloc resection, and reconstruction of the tympanic membrane defect. Small lesions can be excised via a permeatal or endaural approach, while larger lesions require a postauricular approach.

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