A preauricular pit is a common birth irregularity first reported in 1864. Healthcare professionals tend to notice these pits during routine examinations of newborns.
These pits may occur on one or both ears, and there may be more than one pit present. However, it is more common for there to be a pit in only one ear.
The hole is connected to a sinus tract that should not be there. This tract runs under the skin, and its path can either be short or long and complicated.
Preauricular pits are not the same as preauricular tags, which are fleshy lumps of skin that carry no risk of complications.
According to research by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), preauricular skin lesions, including pits and tags, affect between five and 10 babies in every 1,000 live births.
In general, these holes are minor irregularities that do not cause serious complications. However, some people develop an infection in the pit and the sinus tract. Sometimes, an abscess may form at the site of the pit. Recurrent infections may require surgery.
On rare occasions, a preauricular pit appears as a feature of another condition, such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome or branchio-oto-renal syndrome. Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome is an overgrowth syndrome that affects many parts of the body. Branchio-oto-renal syndrome is a genetic condition that causes tissue anomalies in the ears, neck, and kidneys.
Preauricular pits are not the same as brachial cleft cysts, which occur along the neck, under the chin, or around the ear.
Other names for a preauricular pit include preauricular fissure and preauricular sinus.
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