Managing Preauricular Pits and Sinuses


The management of preauricular pits and sinuses is a subject of increasing importance within the field of otolaryngology. These congenital anomalies, often present at birth as small depressions or openings located near the front of the ear, require careful consideration and proactive care to ensure optimal health outcomes. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of managing preauricular pits and sinuses, exploring their causes, symptoms, diagnostic approaches, and a range of treatment options. With a focus on professional and patient-centric care, this resource aims to empower individuals and medical practitioners alike with the knowledge needed to effectively address this unique medical condition. Under the guidance of specialists like Dr. Shree Rao, this guide endeavors to provide valuable insights and strategies for managing preauricular pits and sinuses, ultimately contributing to improved well-being and peace of mind for those affected by this condition.

Dr. Shree Rao, a seasoned ENT surgeon with a specialization in Otology and Cochlear implant surgeries, leads the Cochlear Implant team at Hyderabad’s top ENT hospital, Dr. Rao’s ENT. With a decade of experience, her patient-centered approach, emphasis on positive outcomes, and empathy have earned her the trust and admiration of patients and their families.

Preauricular pits

Preauricular pits

Preauricular pits, also known as preauricular sinuses or fistulas, are tiny congenital abnormalities characterized by small openings or depressions located near the front of the external ear, usually in the vicinity of the upper part where the ear meets the face. These pits are formed during the early stages of fetal development, typically between the fourth and sixth months of gestation. Underneath the skin, a sinus tract or channel is often associated with preauricular pits, and it may extend to varying depths or branch out within the surrounding ear tissue. Preauricular pits are considered congenital anomalies and can be present at birth.

Causes of preauricular pits

The exact cause of preauricular pits is not definitively understood. They can occur either sporadically during embryonic development or have a genetic basis. However, the precise underlying reasons for their formation remain unknown. In cases where an individual has preauricular pits in both ears, there may be a genetic component involved.

Symptoms of preauricular pits

In the majority of instances, preauricular pits do not manifest noticeable symptoms. However, it is important not to assume that they are entirely benign. If the opening becomes sealed, it can lead to ear infections, which may present with the following symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Discharge of fluids
  • Pain and fever
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Formation of a cyst

Diagnosing and testing preauricular pits

Preauricular pits, though congenital, may not always be immediately evident to the general population. However, if spotted by a vigilant nurse or diligent primary healthcare provider during the early stages, it allows for timely detection and diagnosis. Consequently, a specialized ENT specialist or otolaryngologist typically conducts an assessment to confirm the presence of these pits and elucidate any associated risks.

To thoroughly evaluate potential risks and the extent of the condition, a series of diagnostic tests may be necessary:

Ear CT and MRI scans – These advanced imaging techniques assist in pinpointing the precise location and depth of the preauricular pit.

Kidney ultrasound – In specific instances, a kidney ultrasound might be recommended to assess kidney function, as preauricular pits can occasionally impact this organ.

Audiogram – An audiogram may be carried out to detect any ear deformities or hearing issues linked to the preauricular pit.

The early identification and assessment of preauricular pits are paramount for gaining insights into the condition’s scope and potential health-related implications.

Preauricular tags

Preauricular tags are non-cancerous congenital anomalies characterized by skin protrusions located near the anterior aspect of the ear and may be linked to other medical conditions. Although these skin tags are generally harmless, if you have one located in front of your ear, it is advisable to seek consultation with a preauricular tag specialist such as Dr. Shree Rao, an Ear Surgeon with expertise in this area.

Treatment for preauricular pits

The treatment for preauricular pits or sinuses involves a straightforward surgical procedure to remove them. This surgical intervention typically lasts for approximately one hour and is conducted under local anesthesia.


If you or someone you know has a preauricular tag, you may have several common questions. Dr. Shree Rao, an expert in preauricular tag removal, offers comprehensive answers to these frequently asked questions.

Indeed, maintaining cleanliness in the preauricular pit is essential for safeguarding both the ear and the pit from potential infections. A gentle cleaning using water and soap is recommended, with caution to prevent excessive water from entering the ear or the preauricular pit.

The term “Preauricular discharge” refers to any fluid or malodorous discharge originating from the preauricular pit or sinus. Typically, this discharge is a sign of ear infection. It is imperative to seek prompt consultation with an ear surgeon, as neglecting it may result in a severe infection.

Preauricular pits are predominantly observed in children who experience ear development abnormalities during the initial stages of gestation. While they may not impact your hearing directly, they can potentially result in ear infections and related issues. Seeking consultation and treatment from Dr. Shree Rao, an ENT specialist, is advisable for addressing Preauricular sinuses effectively.

As per the expertise of Dr. Shree Rao, a renowned preauricular sinus specialist in Hyderabad, the primary concern arising from the neglect of untreated preauricular pits is the potential for infection. The pit can become susceptible to infection, and in certain instances, it can progress into a condition known as preauricular sinus, where the infection extends deeper, affecting the external auditory canal or even extending behind the ear.


Preauricular pits are commonly observed in the populations of Asia and Africa. This congenital anomaly typically manifests as a benign, asymptomatic condition and is not contagious. Many individuals do not seek treatment for preauricular pits until complications, such as infections, arise. However, it is advisable to undergo periodic examinations as a preventive measure to mitigate the risk of potential infections.

In conclusion, Dr. Rao’s ENT stands as a leading institution in the field of ear, nose, and throat healthcare. With an unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional medical services and under the guidance of renowned experts like Dr. Shree Rao, the hospital has earned the trust and confidence of the Hyderabad community.

For those seeking relief from preauricular pits and related conditions, the journey toward optimal ear health commences right here. There is no need to endure the challenges posed by these conditions any longer. Dr. Rao’s ENT extends a warm invitation for individuals to schedule their appointments today. Take that crucial initial step toward a life free from the inconvenience and discomfort of preauricular pits. The dedicated team is fully equipped and prepared to provide expert guidance and support throughout every phase of one’s healthcare journey, with your well-being remaining their unwavering priority.

About the author

Best ent doctor hyderabad | Dr.GVK Chaitanya Rao

Dr. Chaitanya Rao, Managing director at Dr. Rao’s ENT group of hospitals has 10 years experience in the field of ENT.

His special areas of interest include Nose & sinus surgeries, Otology, Snoring and sleep apnea surgeries. During his Post-graduation itself he was invited as a visiting physician to House Institute of Medical sciences, Los Angeles; Rhinology and Anterior skull base unit, Ohio State University Medical Centre, Columbus, Ohio and University of Michigan from where he picked up his skills.

He plays a key role (Course Director & co-ordinator) in giving hands on training to around 150 ENT surgeons every year from all around the world for initiating and improving their ENT surgical skills as a part of Hyderabad ENT Research Foundation initiatives.

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