Ear, cauliflower: An acquired deformity of the external ear to which wrestlers and boxers are particularly vulnerable, due to trauma. When a blood clot (hematoma) forms under the skin of the ear, the clot disrupts the connection of the skin to the ear cartilage. The cartilage has no other blood supply except from the overlying skin, so if the skin is separated from the cartilage, it is deprived of nutrients and dies. The ear cartilage then shrivels up to form the classic cauliflower ear, so named because the tissue resembles that lumpy vegetable's surface. Treatment involves draining the blood clot through an incision in the ear and then applying a compressive dressing, to sandwich the two sides of the skin against the cartilage.
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Last Editorial Review: 7/1/2016