Tuberculous Otitis in Infants: Temporal Bone Histopathology and Clinical Extrapolation

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The study of infant temporal bones with tuberculosis (TB) of the middle ear and mastoid could provide information to assist with clinical diagnosis in this population.


The TB pandemic has become a critical global public health problem. With the rising incidence of the disease, otolaryngologists might encounter an increased frequency of otologic TB. Pediatric temporal bone reports of TB are rare.


Light microscopic examination was performed on both temporal bones from an infant who died as a result of miliary TB.


The tympanic membranes were thickened with dilated blood vessels, yet were intact without perforations. Purulence, granulation tissue, and classic tubercles were observed in the middle ears and mastoids. Serous labyrinthitis and inflammatory cells surrounding the Cranial Nerve VIII in the internal auditory canal were observed in the inner ear.


The histological findings suggest that a clinical presentation of infantile tuberculous otitis media and mastoiditis could be a patient with otoscopic findings consistent with common otitis media with an intact tympanic membrane, likely in conjunction with inner ear symptoms. Lacking the classic finding of multiple tympanic membrane perforations, tuberculous otitis might be underappreciated in this population.

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