“Warrior’s patch of honour”, “Don’t mess with the guy with a Cauliflower ear”, well you guessed it right, I’m referring to the Cauliflower ear, the much glamorized piece of art. Well for starters I would like to agree to the adage. The guy with the “Cauliflower ear” isn’t to be messed with, it’s not that it grants one a special status but rather it means the guy must’ve been in the fighting industry for quite some time so he is apt at that.
However having said that, I in no way am promoting the “Cauliflower ear”. Let’s get down to the basics or in what we call in medicine as “Pathophysiology”. You see the outer ear has two parts, one made of soft flesh and the other of soft bone. This soft bone or cartilage is not having a blood supply. The blood to that is supplied by a very thin membrane or tissue which covers it. This is then covered by skin.
Now this membrane is very important as it is the sole supply to the “cartilage” or soft bone. What really happens is that repeated punching or trauma to the outer ear results in the breakage or damage to this cartilage or soft bone. The membrane sort of gets detached from the cartilage and the soft bone is devoid of blood supply. Now this is a serious issue and needs to be taken care of. The blood accumulates between the membrane and the cartilage and causes a “hematoma” or collection of blood to form. As you know that blood is a very good culture medium, this can provide as a coagulum for bacteria to grow and proliferate. The cartilage at this point becomes devoid of blood supply and if normal anatomy is not restored it eventually becomes permanently damaged and results in what we call as the “Cauliflower ear”.
If the accumulated blood gets infected then the bacteria can erode the cartilage further and could even lead to ear infections, deafness and erosion of cartilage. The best course of action is to get evaluated by an ENT surgeon, who is skilled at handling these kinds of conditions. Either you will get an aspiration done and compression bandage applied or you will have a drainage procedure done and compression bandage applied. The idea is not to take this lightly and avoid fighting till it heals. In no way is self-instrumentation to be done as this in unskilled hands could lead to irrecoverable damage. Wearing head gear during fights is the best way to avoid this issue. Play safe and take care of your body.
This article has been written by Dr. Arshad Beg who is a surgical registrar specializing in General Surgery. He works at Liaquat National Hospital Karachi and has a keen interest in MMA.
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