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Mastoid pneumocele with secondary pneumatocele causing external auditory canal obstruction and the influence of forced nose blowing

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January 1, 2010
by Geert Delabie, MD, Frans Gordts, MD, PhD, and Peter A.R. Clement, MD, PhD


We present a case involving a 36-year-old man who had a feeling that his right ear was obstructed and who had associated conductive hearing loss that was exacerbated by nose blowing. On otoscopy, a soft-tissue swelling was seen in the posterosuperior aspect of the right external auditory canal. Computed tomography revealed the presence of hyperaerated mastoid air cells and an air-containing cavity connected with the enlarged mastoid air cells, narrowing the external auditory canal. A radiographic diagnosis of a mastoid pneumocele with secondary pneumatocele was made. A novel hypothesis is presented, that high nasal pressures play an important role in the progressive formation of a pneumocele/pneumatocele as a result of air invasion via the eustachian tube. Symptoms disappeared after a myringotomy tube was placed. Computed tomography performed 6 months later showed an impressive remodeling of the temporal bone

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