From toothpick to intraparenychmal otogenic pneumocephalus: A case report


Department of Neurosurgery, Advocate Health Care

Neurointensive Care, Advocate Health Care


BACKGROUND: Intracranial pneumocephalus, the accumulation of air, occurs most frequently from trauma, tumor, cranial surgeries, or infection. Intraparenchymal otogenic pneumocephalus is a rare but well-documented development. We describe a patient who developed pneumocephalus in the context of eardrum perforation secondary to toothpick use for ear wax.

CASE DESCRIPTION: An 86-year-old female presented to the emergency room with a 1-day history of dysarthria and a few days of cough and sneezing. History revealed she had recently been advised to avoid Q-Tips to clean her ears and instead was using toothpicks. She denied otalgia or otorrhea and had no signs of infection near the ear. On otoscopic examination, the right tympanic membrane was perforated. On head computed tomography, she was found to have a large right temporal pneumocephalus extending from the petrous bone. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain revealed a defect in the right tegmen. She was started on empiric antibiotics and subsequently taken to the operating room for craniotomy and repair of bony and dural defects.

CONCLUSIONS: Otogenic pneumocephalus is a rare occurrence. This is the first reported case of pneumocephalus related to self-induced middle ear trauma with a toothpick that ultimately required craniotomy for repair.

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Case Report

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