Cauliflower Ear :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Cauliflower Ear

Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine clinics offer treatment for “Cauliflower Ear”, also known as ‘Wrestlers ear’ or ‘Boxers ear’, injuries that are most often seen in wrestling, boxing and martial arts.

When struck in the ear during competition or practice by a hand, foot, an opponents head or even the mat the ear can swell causing disfigurement. The blunt force trauma to the outer ear causes a separation of the outer skin from the cartilage that forms the shape of our ears. Blood or other fluids fill the space in between and disrupts normal blood flow. The skin on the surface of our ear is the only blood supply for the cartilage, and without it the cartilage is starved of vital nutrients and can cause tissue death and calcification, fibrous tissue and disfigurement. This damage to the cartilage of the ear increases the risk of infection.

The swelling can be treated in the office in a normal outpatient procedure. If possible, the ear is numbed and the fluid is aspirated (removed) with a needle and syringe, and then a compressive dressing is stitched into place to help the outer layer of skin heal back down and reconnect with the cartilage.

After the proper amount of healing, the stitches and dressing are removed.

Due to the repetitive traumas that can happen in wrestling, boxing and martial arts, the potential for re-accumulation of blood is high. The best time to fix an ear in this condition is as soon as possible. The longer the condition goes on, the more scar tissue and calcification occurs.

These injuries are almost completely preventable by wearing proper and well fitting headgear. Prevention of Cauliflower ear is the easiest, least painful and best route by far.

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000