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Embedded Earrings in Children

Timm, Nathan MD; Iyer, Srikant MD, MPH

doi: 10.1097/pec.0b013e31815f6f59
Original Articles

Objectives: The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the incidence of embedded earrings as a chief complaint among children presenting to a pediatric emergency department (ED), (2) to describe the age distribution of children presenting to the ED with embedded earrings, and (3) to describe local experience with the evaluation and treatment of these children.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ED for children presenting with a chief complaint of an embedded earring from 2000 to 2005. Demographic data, removal technique, presence of infection, and antibiotic administration were recorded.

Results: A total of 100 patients met criteria for inclusion in the study. The overall incidence was 25 per 100,000 patient visits. Most of the patients were girls (n = 81) with a median age of 8 years. Sixty percent of the cohort were younger than 10 years. Locations for embedded earrings included: lobule (n = 87), tragus (n = 2), and pinna (n = 11), with the majority having the posterior portion of the earring embedded (n = 68). Thirty-five percent of the patients had an infection at the embedded earring site. Local anesthesia was used in the most of the patients (n = 72); none required procedural sedation.

Conclusions: Embedded earring is an uncommon complaint among children presenting to a pediatric ED. Young children are likely overrepresented in the occurrence of this problem, which supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to postpone ear piercing until self-care is achievable.

Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Nathan Timm, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave, MLC 2008, Cincinnati, OH 45229. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.