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Newborn ear lesion

A newborn was evaluated by the Family Medicine Maternal Child Health Service for a congenital lesion near his ear. It was firm and somewhat fixed to palpation. There were no other abnormalities noted during the child’s exam, and his behavior was appropriate for his age.

What is your diagnosis?



Newborn ear lesion

This lesion was diagnosed as an accessory tragus. Although sometimes called a preauricular skin tag, it is more aptly named accessory tragus since it arises embryonically along with the tragus from the first branchial arch. It usually is slightly anterior to the ear and can be seen unilaterally or bilaterally. The lesions usually feel firm to palpation due to an underlying cartilaginous component.

While this finding can be seen in congenital syndromes—most commonly oculoauriculovertebral syndrome (also known as Goldenhar syndrome)—it usually occurs in isolation. If there are no other abnormalities on exam to suggest a congenital syndrome, no additional work-up is necessary.

Concerns have been raised about a possible association with decreased hearing. Routine hearing screens are performed in the United States and this child’s screen was normal, so no further investigation for inner ear abnormalities was warranted.

These lesions usually are asymptomatic (unless traumatized). If removal is desired, it is important to remove the cartilaginous component, which can be deep and require additional dissection rather than simple transection at the base. Incomplete removal of the cartilage can cause chondritis, impede skin healing, and lead to infection.

Photo and text courtesy of Daniel Stulberg, MD, FAAFP, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque.

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