A retrospective study of 317 cases of suppurative otochondritis occurring in a population of 4794 burned patients successively admitted to one institution between 1967 and 1984 is presented. During the study interval, the incidence of the disease decreased from 20 percent to less than 3 percent in patients with burns of one or both ears. The bacterial species associated with chondritis, principally Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus species, did not change. Patients admitted later than the second postburn day exhibited a significantly greater incidence of chondritis. The crucial factors in prevention of this complication appear to be avoidance of pressure on burned ears and topical chemotherapeutic control of local Pseudomonas infection. Systemic antibiotic prophylaxis did not appear to influence the incidence in the studied population. Several approaches to clinical management of suppurative chondritis are reviewed.
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