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Otorinolaringologia 1998 June;48(2):77-9


language: English

Lipidic composition of the cerumen in two common pathologies: the cerumen plug and dyslipidemia

Taborelli G., D’Agostino R., Melagrana A.

From the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, “Giannina Gaslini Institute”, Genoa


Background. Excessive accumulation of earwax in the external auditory meatus is a quite common occurrence. An increase in secretory function of the ceruminous glands has been suggested on the basis of experimental evidence of their enhanced enzymatic activity. We have tested our technique of evaluation of the earwax lipids both in the cerumen plug and in the cerumen of hyperlipidemic subjects.
Methods. Thirty-four subjects of both sexes, with normal values of cholesterolemia and/or triglyceridemia, 20 to 30 years old, complaining of excessive wax accumulation have been studied. Besides we have tested an other 36 cases of both sexes 20 to 82 years old, affected by hypercholesterolemia and/or hypertriglyceridemia. We consider normal values of cholesterolemia and triglyceridemia, respectively from 140 to 200 mg/dl and from 70 to 150 mg/dl. They were submitted to otoscopy of the outer ear before and after washing it. Cerumen was extracted and examined separately from each ear according to the technique previously described.
Results. Regarding correlation between hyperlipidemia and chemical composition of the cerumen we obtained what follows: 21 cases of hypercholesterolemia, 7 cases of normal cholesterolemia and 8 cases of hypocholesterolemia presented in the cerumen extracted from the outer ear a chemical percentage of 7.6%, 6.52% and 8.4% respectively of cholesterol. In 9 cases of hypotriglyceridemia, 19 cases of normal triglyceridemia and 8 cases of hypotriglyceridemia we obtained in the cerumen a chemical percentage of 17.51%, 21.68% and 17.4% respectively of triglycerides.
Conclusions. Triglycerides and cholesterol were less in percentage than in normal ears. Most of the cerumen plug is composed of other substances than lipids. We do not check any correlation between hyperlipidemia and chemical content of lipids in the cerumen. We conclude that lipemia does not influence the production of the lipidic component of cerumen.

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