Humans hear and listen through their ears, which is why having healthy ears is very important. Taking care of the outer parts of your ears is also important. If anything bad happens to our ears, from traumas like sport-related injuries or animal bites, serious medical treatments might have to be taken. These traumas are called ear lacerations.
Getting to know the human ear anatomy:
Of course, in order to understand more about ear lacerations, the first thing we need to do is to understand the anatomy of our own ears:
The external ear is called ‘auricle’. It is from the development of the six tubercles. They fuse to form the seven wonders we call:
– tragus (the small, bump-like shape by the edge of the hole),
– crus of helix (the outer layer above the tragus),
– helix (the highest point of the outer later),
– antihelix (the wall close to the hole),
– antiragus (another bump-like shape facing the ragus),
– lobule (or is also known as ‘the lobe’.)
Now you know more about your ear anatomy. To be more specific, what causes ear laceration? What kind of treatments are needed to cure yourself from it?
Specific causes of ear lacerations:
- Scratches, especially if whatever has scratched your ear may not be clean or sterile. Yes, that includes your fingernails too.
- Bruises, either from a direct impact during sport (hit by a football), an accident, or a fist during a fight.
- Blood clotting.
- Swelling, like from an animal bites or an allergic reaction.
Ear lacerations can also happen to the internal part of your ear, like an injury to your ear canal or a tear at your eardrum. All of these sound scary, especially if your job involves listening. The injured internal part of your ear may be caused by removing your ear wax too hard with a cotton swab or your finger.
Other more familiar causes for your injured internal ear include flying and (deep sea) diving. (This is why deep sea diving suit includes covering your ears.) If your ear happens to be wet, please be careful with any possible blow to it. That may also cause ear lacerations.
If that is the case, then what medical treatments should be done to cure ear lacerations? Should stitches are required?
Treatments for ear lacerations:
Each case of ear lacerations may be different. The exposed part of the cartilage needs to be covered and the wounded hematoma needs to be minimized. Those are the two primary goals of the wound management on this case. If the condition is worse, then another medical treatment needs to be performed. One example is reimplementation.
Reimplementation needs to be done if one suffers from total ear avulsions. In some cases, this method is considered a success. However, not every doctor can do this. Reimplementation has to be done by a professional specialist. Yes, that also means stitching the lacerated part of your ear.
Reimplementation might require if your ear lacerations are contraindications, like:
– Large skin avulsions (at least 5 mm)
– Severely crushed part(s)
– Avulsions, either nearly complete or complete…or amputations
– Auricular hematoma
– The largely-defected cartilage (at least 5 mm)
– Severe wounds that might sacrifice about 5 mm of your tissue
– Auditory canal-related issues
– The devitalization of your tissue.
These facts might sound scary to you. It is understandable. Even after the surgery, the after-effect of ear lacerations might alter your looks, even just a bit. This is why you will need to consult with the professional specialist if you suffer from one of these contraindications.
What if your ear needs to be stitched? How does the stitching work?
The debriding process:
Since ears have softer tissues than other parts on your head, this is nothing like stitching regular cuts on your arm after a street brawl. The process is called ‘debriding’. If the cartilage of your antihelix gets exposed too badly that the skin cannot automatically covered it, then this process needs to be done.
How is the debriding process done?
- Wedge excision. Scalpel No.15 is used to cut a triangle bigger than the exposed cartilage of your antihelix.
- Use a 1-milimetre skin overhang beyond the exposed cartilage is used to let the eversion of the skin when it is closed.
- Any visible deformity can be avoided if the remove cartilage is maximum 5 mm.
Simple sutures can also help skin to close the wounds again. However, if the wound is contaminated, then loose approximation is needed.
In some cases, you need to have your ear bandaged as part of the healing process. After the care, you need to elevate your head. Check the wound every day (or in 24 hours since after the surgery) for the hematoma to form and the wound to dry.
Another alternative for ear laceration treatment is the use of live leeches. However, this is only necessary when edema, dark discoloration, or venous drainage problem occurs.