Otorrhea describes the condition in which cerebrospinal fluid from the brain drains out of the ear canal. This occurs because something has disrupted the skull and the dura, the linings surrounding the brain. In addition, disruption of the eardrum is often seen.
Causes of Ottorhea
The most common cause of otorrhea is trauma. Here, the skull base is fractured producing and basilar skull fracture. Occasionally, tumors or infections that lead to destruction of the adjacent skull and dura and also produce otorrhea.
Signs and Symptoms of Ottorhea
Often cerebrospinal fluid will drain from the ear either as a clear liquid or combined with some blood. Since it most commonly occurs after a basilar skull fracture, the structures of the petrous bone (that portion of the temporal bone in which the structures for hearing exist) are often injured. This can lead to varying degrees of hearing loss and dizziness and vertigo. In addition, since the facial nerve passes through these bones, weakness or paralysis of the face may be seen. Occasionally these injuries are seen in conjunction with hemorrhages within the brain. Weakness, numbness, speech problems and coma may occur. If bacteria migrate up though the disrupted tissue, meningitis or brain abscess can occur. This can lead to headache, fever, seizures, weakness and paralysis.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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