Arteriovenous malformation of the external ear: a clinical assessment with a scoping review of the literature

<div><p>Abstract Introduction: Auricular Arteriovenous Malformation of the external ear is a rarely encountered disease; in particular, arteriovenous malformation arising from the auricle, with spontaneous bleeding, has seldom been reported. Objective: In the current study, we report an unusual case of late-onset auricular arteriovenous malformation originating from the posterior auricular artery that was confirmed by computed tomographic angiography. The case was successfully managed by pre-surgical intravascular embolization followed by total lesion excision. Prompted by this case, we also present a scoping review of the literature. Methods: A case of a 60 year-old man with right auricular arteriovenous malformation treated in our tertiary care center, and 52 patients with auricular arteriovenous malformation described in 10 case reports and a retrospective review are presented. Auricular arteriovenous malformation can manifest as swelling of the ear, pulsatile tinnitus, pain, and/or bleeding. On physical examination, a pulsatile swelling and/or a tender mass is evident. When arteriovenous malformation is suspected, the lesions should be visualized using imaging modalities that optimally detect vascular lesions, and managed via embolization, mass excision, or auricular resection. Effectiveness of the various diagnostic methods used and the treatment outcomes were analyzed. Results: Various imaging modalities including Doppler sonography, computed tomographic angiography, magnetic resonance angiography, and/or transfemoral cerebral angiography were used to diagnose 38 cases reported in the literature. In another 15 cases, no imaging was performed; treatment was determined solely by physical examination and auscultation. Of the total of 53 cases, 12 were not treated (their symptoms were merely observed) whereas 20 underwent therapeutic embolization. In total, 32 patients, including 1 patient who was not treated and 10 with persistent or aggravated arteriovenous malformation after previous embolization, underwent mass excision or auricular resection depending on the extent of the lesion. No major postoperative complication was recorded. The postoperative follow-up duration varied from 1 month to 19 years, and only one case of unresectable, residual cervicofacial arteriovenous malformation was recorded. Conclusion: Auricular arteriovenous malformation is a rarely encountered disease, but should be suspected if a patient presents with a swollen ear and pulsatile tinnitus. Appropriate imaging is essential for diagnosis and evaluation of the extent of disease. As embolization affords only relatively poor control, total surgical removal of the vascular mass is recommended.</p></div>