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

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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.


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.


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.


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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