A boy heard a buzzing sound and felt something strange. The cause caught his doctors by surprise
By Susan Scutti, May 1, 2019
CNN – A 9-year-old Connecticut boy felt a strange sensation in his right ear, he told his doctor.
Three days earlier, he’d heard a buzzing noise in that ear.
Still, the boy felt no real pain, and he could hear perfectly well.
When asked what he’d been doing, the boy said nothing more unusual than playing outdoors at school.
Dr. Erik Waldman peered inside the boy’s ear and saw something unexpected:
A tick appeared to be implanted in the right tympanic membrane — the eardrum — where it was surrounded by inflamed tissue.
It was unusual, but a tick had embedded in a boy’s right eardrum. Big Spike In Ticks, Bugs, Third World Disease Across USA
Waldman attempted to remove the tick, but the embedded arachnid wouldn’t budge. (Ticks are commonly thought to be insects, but they are relatives of spiders.)
Dr. David Kasle, a resident otolaryngologist at Yale New Haven Hospital, said that “in any kid, removal of a foreign body from an ear is difficult — but especially in this case.”
The tick’s capitulum — the mouth parts that do the probing, holding and bloodsucking — was “dug in,” Kasle said.
Pulling the tick straight out would cause pain and probably tear the membrane. Kasle explained:
“The eardrum essentially acts as a part of a pretty complex lever mechanism to allow sound to travel from the outer ear into the inner ear and through the middle ear, where there are ossicles — small bones. You need that drum intact to get good sound.”
Not removing the tick would also have consequences, he said: Over time, the boy would not be able to hear well.
Still, he did not want to “inflict more damage,” including a possible perforation of the eardrum. A hole might not deafen the boy, but it would “dampen” his hearing, Kasle said. Many eardrum perforations heal on their own, he said, but not all.
“We took him to the operating room, put him to sleep, and we were able to use pretty fine utensils to remove the capitulum of the tick … ” Read more.
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