Medical Definition of Ear, cauliflower

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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