Monday, May 30, 2016

Why Some People Have A Little Hole By Their Ear

Do you or someone you know have a tiny hole or dent next to your ear? Interestingly, only about one in 100 people have this congenital malformation. 

Let's take a look at this interesting phenomenon called the preauricular sinus. 

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Do you see it? The tiny dent at the spot where the ear cartilage meets the face?

That is a preauricular sinus.

You most likely haven't even noticed the tiny hole on someone you know because it looks a bit like a piercing spot. 

Pretty neat, right?

In the United Kingdom, just under 1% of people have one of these spots.

Interestingly, the amount is lower in the United States, but it still exists. So why do people have them?

The possible reason is somewhat alarming...

Evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin told Business Insider that he believes the defect is the "evolutionary remnant of fish gills."

The sinus may just be left over from past evolutionary history. 


This idea isn't new. In fact, many experts believe a wealth of evidence exists supporting the idea humans have evolved from fish. 

It may not be a surprise these clues have come from the way the human face develops in utero. Interestingly, eyes begin on the side of the head, much like a fish, before further development takes place. 

The hereditary birth defect was first documented in 1864 by Van Heusinger.

Likely the spot existed before Heusinger's discovery, but it isn't surprising that the discovery came so late given that some patients with preauricular sinuses don't ever notice having one. In one study, up to a third of patients weren't aware of their defect. 

Unfortunately, there is an increased risk of infection in these sinuses. 

Here is an inflamed preauricular sinus.

Sometimes, if infection becomes too frequent, there are surgical procedures in place to remove the sinus from near the ear. 

Luckily, antibiotics can be really helpful as well, potentially ruling out the need for a surgical procedure.

Oftentimes, the sinuses don't present any issues. The most likely issue one will have with their extra sinus is a bout of inflammation. 

Do you have one?

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Author: verified_user