THE PURPOSE of this paper is to question the necessity of so-called antiseptic preparation of the ear canal in patients undergoing otologic surgery. There is evidence, both bacteriological and clinical, to show that the emphasis placed by some on sterilization of the ear canal is out of proportion to its usefulness.
Five years ago, Saunders, Suie, and Sroufe1 studied the bacterial flora of normal ear canals in 50 subjects. The only organisms recovered were diphtheroids (26% of the group); anaerobic streptococci (4%); chromobacteria (4%); staphylococci, coagulase negative (100% ); streptomyces (2%); and Bacillus subtilis (4%). No fungi were recovered. Conspicuously absent from the normal ear canal were coagulase-positive staphylococci, Pseudomonasaeruginosa, α- and β-hemolytic streptococci, and Proteus vulgaris—the organisms found most commonly in a concurrent study of 132 patients with external otitis or otitis media (Table 1).
We have just completed a second study of the microflora of normal