Foreign Body in the Ear

"Do or do not. There is no try."   * 


Red flags

  • Ear pain and discharge may represent infection 
  • Loss of hearing - especially when this persists after removal of the foreign body
  • Beware button batteries


Why is this important? 

  • A persistently discharging ear in a child should raise the possibility of a foreign body
  • Persistent hearing loss after removal of the foreign body, exudate etc. might be due to damage to the tympanic membrane or ossicular chain
  • Removal can be difficult, especially in children or those with learning disability. You should brief the patient, parents and carers beforehand and prepare well to ensure you have  a reasonable chance of success.
  • Consider an outpatient pure-tone audiogram for persistent or disproportionate hearing loss

See Procedure: Removing Foreign Bodies


When to involve the ENT Registrar

  • Soon (working hours): If you feel a general anaesthetic is required or if you have failed to remove the foreign body
  • Immediately: If the foreign body is a button battery 


Who to admit

  • Patients with aural foreign bodies do not need admission unless there are logistical (waiting for emergency list slot) or anaesthetic reasons (post-procedure)


*apologies to Yoda



Page last reviewed: 23 September 2016