Gustatory Otalgia and Wet Ear Syndrome: A Possible Cross-Innervation After Ear Surgery

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Abstract

Hypothesis:

The chorda tympani and Arnold's nerves have close approximation to each other and their cross-innervation is possible after ear surgery.

Study Design:

A retrospective study was performed with a temporal bone pathology case and two clinical cases as representatives of such a possibility. Patients had severe otalgia and wet ear during gustatory stimulation.

Methods:

A temporal bone pathology case was studied under a light microscope. Earache and/or wet ear were provoked during gustatory stimulation. Wet ear was tested with iodine-starch reaction after the subject tasted lemon juice.

Results:

The temporal bone specimen has clusters of regenerated fibers in the tympanic cavity in the area of the chorda tympani and Arnold's nerves, suggesting a possibility of mixing. There are regenerated fibers in the iter chordae anterius, showing successful bridging of the chorda tympani nerves across a long gap. Detachment of the skin over the operated mastoid bowl obscured signs in one clinical case. Another clinical case of gustatory wet ear showed objective evidence of cross-innervation with iodine-starch reaction.

Conclusion:

The detachment procedure and iodine-starch reaction were the proofs that the signs were related to regenerated fibers. This is the first report of gustatory otalgia and wet ear after ear surgery.

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