Tragus: Definition, physiology, pathologies, and pain of the tragus

The tragus (from the Greek tragos, goat) belongs to the pinna of the ear, it is a small protrusion at the entrance of the external auditory canal.

Anatomy of the tragus

The tragus is a small anatomical structure on the surface of the pinna of the ear; Also called the auricle, the pinna is the visible part of the ear composed mainly of elastic cartilage.
The tragus is a small flattened protrusion, rounded to triangular in shape depending on the individual. It is located in front and outside the external ear canal (ear opening).

The tragus is innervated by a branch of the trigeminal nerve. It has its own muscle, the tragus muscle, which connects this area to other parts of the pinna. Above it is the conch, which gives rise to the helix that forms the curved edge in front and top of the auricle.

Tragus physiology

Made of cartilage and covered with skin, the tragus protects the opening of the external auditory canal.

Tragus pathologies and pains

Skin lesions and tumors of the outer ear: due to its external situation, the auricle is exposed to environmental influences and trauma (e.g. UV). Pathologies are rare but they can affect different anatomical structures. Regarding the tragus, it can be the seat of the atrial appendage (benign lesions) or benign tumors called cylindromas.

Accessory tragus: rare congenital malformation of the outer ear of a benign character. Like the tragus, it is a small prominence made of skin and cartilage. It is usually located in front of the tragus, but can also appear on the cheek, neck, or middle ear. Its presence may be associated with other rare congenital syndromes (Goldenhar or Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome for example). The accessory tragus is usually removed by surgery.

Tragus Examinations

Clinical examination: visual examination performed by the doctor who evaluates the appearance of the tragus to detect any lesion, tumor, or other abnormality.

Biopsy: in the case of lesions or tumors of the tragus, the diagnosis should be confirmed histologically. A biopsy is then performed, which involves surgically removing a fragment of tissue from the tragus. The removed piece is subjected to microscopic examination and/or biochemical analysis to detect various abnormalities or diseases.

Case of tragus

The tragus represents an area of the outer ear that is commonly pierced.

Image Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska from

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