The temporal bone (the skull bone containing part of the ear canal Outer Ear The ear, which is the organ of hearing and balance, consists of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer, middle, and inner ear function together to convert sound waves into nerve impulses... read more , the middle ear Middle Ear The ear, which is the organ of hearing and balance, consists of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer, middle, and inner ear function together to convert sound waves into nerve impulses... read more , and the inner ear Inner Ear The ear, which is the organ of hearing and balance, consists of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer, middle, and inner ear function together to convert sound waves into nerve impulses... read more ) can be fractured, usually by a blow to the head.
Temporal bone fractures can cause various injuries to the middle and inner ear. Injuries include rupture of the eardrum Eardrum Perforation A perforation is a hole in the eardrum. Eardrum perforations are caused by middle ear infections and injuries. Perforation causes sudden ear pain, sometimes with bleeding from the ear, hearing... read more and damage to the ossicles (the chain of small bones that connects the eardrum to the inner ear), the cochlea (the organ of hearing), the vestibular apparatus (the organ of balance in the inner ear), or the nerve that controls muscles of the face (facial nerve).
People have pain and often
Other symptoms and complications vary depending on the exact location of the fracture.
Some people have facial paralysis on the side of the fracture. Facial paralysis can develop immediately or after some time and can be mild or severe.
Another symptom is severe hearing loss. Hearing loss Hearing Loss and Deafness read more may result from damage to the three tiny bones (called the ossicles) that connect the eardrum to the inner ear or from damage to the cochlea or the nerve that leads to the cochlea.
If the vestibular apparatus is damaged, people may feel as if they or their surroundings are spinning (vertigo) or have problems with balance.
Sometimes, fluid from around the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid) leaks from the brain through the fracture and appears as clear fluid draining from the ear or nose. Leakage of this fluid indicates that the brain is exposed to possibly serious infection from bacteria in the ear canal.
Diagnosis is made with CT Computed Tomography (CT) In computed tomography (CT), which used to be called computed axial tomography (CAT), an x-ray source and x-ray detector rotate around a person. In modern scanners, the x-ray detector usually... read more .
Doctors also may test the person's hearing and whether the face is paralyzed. If problems are found, further testing is usually done, such as detailed hearing testing Nerve conduction studies Diagnostic procedures may be needed to confirm a diagnosis suggested by the medical history and neurologic examination. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a simple, painless procedure in which... read more by an audiologist or electrodiagnostic testing of the nerve responsible for controlling facial movement.
Treatment is necessary only if the fracture causes problems.