Expanding The Differential Diagnosis for Recurrent Otalgia: A Case Report


      • Otalgia can be defined as primary or secondary, depending on the causative factor.
      • First branchial cleft anomalies are uncommon and are often misdiagnosed.
      • The gold standard treatment for first branchial clefts cysts is complete surgical excision.


      Otalgia is a common presentation in the primary care setting. Due to the complex innervation of the ear, otalgia can have myriad causes. The purpose of this case report is to present a unique case of a young adult with recurrent otalgia that was determined to be congenital in origin. An incorrect diagnosis and treatment in this case would have likely put the patient at risk for repeated otalgia episodes and unnecessary antibiotic treatments. Health care providers are encouraged to look beyond the typical causes of otalgia and consider potential unusual origins.


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      Rose A. Tempel, MSN, ANP-BC, is director of health services at Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY, and can be contacted at [email protected] .