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December 1959

Cerebrospinal Otorrhea

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois College of Medicine.

AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1959;70(6):795-799. doi:10.1001/archotol.1959.00730040809014

Escape of cerebrospinal fluid from the ear is indicative of pathologic communication between the subarachnoid space and temporal bone. Leakage is usually a result of temporal bone fractures and occasionally follows surgical trauma or infection. However, in the absence of trauma or infection, and in the light of present knowledge of temporal bone embryology, the rare possibility of congenital dehiscences responsible for "liquor tympanum" must be considered.

The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the conditions responsible for cerebrospinal otorrhea, the mechanism involved, complications which may ensue, and to develop further the concept of congenital pathogenesis.

Fractures of the temporal bone accompanied by dural tears are the commonest causes of cerebrospinal otorrhea.1 Distinction must be made between instances in which there is an intact tympanic membrane and those in which the membrane is ruptured. The latter, occurring in the presence of an existing otitis media or where an