Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is the best way to remove a foreign body from the ear canal?

Answer:

There is no one correct answer. The physician must use his or her knowledge and experience to optimize patient comfort and to limit injury to the ear structures when extracting the foreign body. Techniques vary from simple irrigation or suction to forceps extraction under direct visualization. Conscious sedation may be required, especially in children. Fine right-angle forceps, a right-angle hook, or small suction cups may be particularly useful. If extraction cannot be accomplished readily, referral to an otolaryngologist for removal under anesthesia, with or without an operating microscope, may be required. After removal of the foreign body, the canal and the tympanic membrane should be inspected. Any evidence of injury to the tympanic membrane should prompt acuity testing and referral to a specialist.

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