Ear & Hearing

About Keratosis Obturans

Keratosis Obturans (KO) is a condition where there is buildup of keratin debris in the external ear canal. In affected patients, the mechanism that would normally transport ear wax and keratin debris out of the ear does not function properly.

As opposed to just wax, the debris is more stuck down on the surface of the skin within the ear and does not easily clear with just ear drops or flushing of the ear. Furthermore, as the condition develops over a long period of time, it leads to remodelling of the bone deeper in the ear canal resulting in a bottleneck at the exit point.

A patient may only notice when the ear becomes completely blocked or when it suddenly becomes painful due to infection. Complete clearance of the debris is achieved by your doctor using specialised ear instruments and visualisation under the operating microscope. This procedure may require anaesthesia for comfort and safety.

To prevent reaccumulation of debris, patients may require regular surveillance and follow-up to keep the ears clear. This can usually be achieved in the clinic without anaesthesia.