Luc’s Abscess: The Zygomatic Route of Infection from Cholesteatoma




Cholesteatoma, Zygoma, Facial nerve paralysis, Mastoidectomy, Abscess, Luc's Abscess


Luc’s abscess is an uncommon complication of otitis media wherein a subperiosteal abscess develops into the temporalis muscle and follows the route of a pneumatized zygoma.1 In uncomplicated cases, surgical drainage and antibiotics are adequate management with mastoidectomy reserved for severe or complicated cases. We report a case of complicated Luc’s abscess presenting with many complications that required multiple surgical interventions.


A 23-year-old man had a three-month history of yellowish, mucoid, foul-smelling left ear discharge associated with multiple episodes of non-projectile watery vomiting (< 1 cup each) and left-sided facial paresis. These symptoms were accompanied by ipsilateral hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness prompting consult and admission to a secondary hospital. A cranial Computed Tomographic (CT) scan showed a cholesteatoma in the left ear. The facial asymmetry improved, vomiting was resolved with intravenous antibiotics, hydration, and an anti-emetic, and he was subsequently discharged. He continued to have recurrent, foul-smelling left ear discharge and left hemifacial paresis persisted.

Left-sided otorrhagia and ipsilateral hemifacial paresis were subsequently associated with left hemifacial swelling, otalgia (VAS of 7/10, described as sharp), and decreased hearing, prompting an outpatient consult with a private ENT specialist. The symptoms persisted despite 7 days of oral ciprofloxacin, this time associated with drowsiness, neck pain and febrile episodes. The patient consulted in our institution and was advised emergency admission.

He was admitted drowsy, coherent with GCS 15 (E4V5M6). The left temporal area was edematous and tender, extending to the ipsilateral post-auricular area inferiorly and frontal area superiorly. (Figure 1) Otoscopy revealed yellowish, foul-smelling, copious muco-purulent discharge and near-total perforated left tympanic membrane. The right ear had unremarkable otoscopic findings. Tuning fork tests at 512 Hz were consistent with sensorineural hearing loss in the left ear with House-Brackmann IV facial nerve paresis. Brudzinski and Kernig tests were negative with no signs of dysmetria, dysdiadochokinesia or dysarthria on cerebellar testing.

Gram stain and KOH smears of the left ear discharge revealed C fruendii and fungal elements. High resolution temporal bone CT scan showed otomastoid disease on the left with automastoidectomy defect, associated subperiosteal and intracerebral abscess formation on the left, with otherwise unremarkable right temporal bone. (Figure 2)


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How to Cite

Dominguez RA, Artates AM. Luc’s Abscess: The Zygomatic Route of Infection from Cholesteatoma. Philipp J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg [Internet]. 2022 Jun. 5 [cited 2022 Oct. 6];37(1):52. Available from: