A diagnosis of otitis externa can be made by reviewing the clinical signs and performing a general clinical examination and an otoscopic examination. Ideally cytology and parasitology should also be undertaken in all cases so that appropriate therapy can be selected. If rod bacteria are detected on cytology, samples of otic discharge should be sent for culture and sensitivity testing.
Otitis cases can be classified as acute, subacute, chronic or recurrent/relapsing, depending on how long the clinical signs have been present for and how the case has previously responded to treatment.
|Acute||Clinical signs present for ≤7 days|
|Subacute||Clinical signs present for >7 but ≤30 days|
|Chronic||Clinical signs present for >30 days|
|Recurrent/Relapsing||Episodes cured after proper treatment but re-appear on a regular basis|
There isn’t time to take a full dermatological history in a 10 minute consultation, but fortunately, a detailed dermatological history and investigation is probably not necessary for a 1st or 2nd presentation acute otitis externa case. However if the otitis is recurrent or chronic, then a much more detailed dermatological history and investigation will be required. These cases may require referral.