Auricular cartilage refers to the cartilage of the ear’s auricle, the outermost portion of the ear (what most people refer to when they talk about ears). This cartilage helps maintain the shape of the ear while allowing for flexibility.
Auricular cartilage is flexible, connective tissue, sometimes referred to as gristle. This type of cartilage is known as elastic cartilage. It contains no nerve cells or blood vessels, and is semi-opaque (somewhat see-through).
Auricular cartilage is permanent cartilage (as opposed to temporary cartilage), meaning it remains in one’s body for his or her entire life. It supports the external ear, allowing the ear bones to develop.
Although many people find it fashionable to pierce their ear cartilage, this can lead to infections. Such infections can cause significant tissue damage and perichondritis, inflammation of the connective tissue that surrounds the auricular cartilage. Damage from these conditions can be difficult for even the most skilled surgeons to treat and can result in permanent disfigurement.