Inflammation of the external ear canal due to a bacterial infection that produces tenderness and severe pain in the ear, as well as constant fluid discharge from the ear. Usually there is no fever. Malignant otitis externa does not mean the condition is cancerous; the term “malignant” refers to the infection’s tendency to spread into surrounding tissue and bone. The diagnosis is usually confirmed by a bone scan. People who have symptoms should see an ear specialist for treatment. Large doses of antibiotics may be prescribed for as long as 3 months. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary. Left untreated, malignant otitis externa may result in damage to the facial nerves and other cranial nerves. It may also lead to a brain abscess. In severe cases, it may be fatal.