Malignant external otitis is an aggressive and potentially life-threatening infection. This rare disorder is typically caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and affects almost exclusively elderly diabetic patients. However, fungal malignant external otitis have been identified, especially in immunocompromised hosts.
We report a rare case of invasive malignant external otitis caused by Aspergillus flavus in a diabetic patient without other underlying immunosuppression. A review of Aspergillus spp. malignant external otitis since voriconazole became the first line for invasive aspergillosis was performed.
A 72-year-old man with diabetes mellitus developed invasive malignant external otitis with a vascular involvement. The patient was treated with empiric courses of antibiotics until a fungal infection was diagnosed. Proven Apsergillus infection was based on histopathological examination and isolation of A. flavus from culture of osteo-meningeal biopsies. Despite optimal antimicrobial therapy with voriconazole, the patient presented with cerebral infarction in the setting of an angioinvasive fungal infection leading to a fatal outcome. From a review of the literature, we found 39 previously published cases of proven Aspergillus spp. malignant external otitis treated with new triazoles.
Given our experience and the literature review, a fungal etiology should be considered early in the course of malignant external otitis unresponsive to a conventional broad spectrum antibiotic therapy, with the need for a tissue biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.