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Laryngoscope. 2001 Nov;111(11 Pt 1):2054-9.

Microbiology of normal external auditory canal.

Author information

1
Anti-infective Microbiology, Alcon Research, Ltd., Fort Worth, Texas 76134, USA. David.stroman@alconlabs.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To isolate and characterize bacteria and fungi from the healthy ear and to obtain susceptibility profiles on each bacterial isolate.

STUDY DESIGN:

Prospective.

METHODS:

Specimens were collected from the external canals and cerumen of healthy subjects. Species-level identification was obtained by combining phenotypic and genotypic data. End-point minimal inhibitory concentration testing was performed using National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards recommended methods.

RESULTS:

One hundred sixty-four subjects were cultured. Seventeen canal and 16 cerumen specimens showed no growth. One hundred forty-eight cerumen specimens yielded 314 organisms, including 23 fungi. One hundred forty-seven canal specimens yielded 310 organisms, including 7 fungi. Of 291 bacteria isolated from cerumen, 99% were Gram-positive. Of 302 bacteria isolated from the canal, 96% were Gram-positive. Staphylococci were 63% of both the cerumen bacteria and the canal bacteria. Coryneforms represented 22% of the bacteria in cerumen and 19% in the canal. Turicellaotitidis was the primary coryneform isolated from both the canal and the cerumen. Streptococci-like bacteria were 10% from the cerumen, 7% from the canal. In both cerumen and canal, Alloiococcusotitis was more than 95% of the streptococci-like bacteria. Fifteen gram-negative organisms were isolated from the canal and cerumen, including four Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. The percentages of Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates that had high-level resistance (> or =8 microg/mL) were as follows: to neomycin, 28% from cerumen and 11% from the canal; to oxacillin, 28% from cerumen and 25% from the canal; and to ofloxacin, 15% from cerumen and 19% from the canal.

CONCLUSIONS:

Turcellaotitidis and A. otitidis were present with a much higher frequency than previously described, lending evidence that they be considered normal otic flora. Corynebacterium auris, previously reported only in children, was isolated from normal adults.

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