Microtia is a congenital pathology in which the outer part of the child’s auricle is underdeveloped or deformed
The anomaly may affect one or both ears. In 90% of cases, the disease appears on only one side (on one ear). Today, foreign doctors successfully treat this disease using innovative surgical techniques.
How can a doctor diagnose Microtia?
The pediatrician can detect microtia on visual examination. To determine the severity, the doctor will order an examination by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist and a hearing test by a pediatric audiologist.
It is also possible to establish the degree of microtia using computed tomography, although generally it is performed only when the child grows up.
The audiologist will assess the child’s hearing loss and the ENT will confirm the presence or absence of an ear canal. The ENT will also be able to recommend different types of hearing aids or reconstructive surgery.
Since microtia can occur along with various genetic pathologies or congenital abnormalities, the doctor will also want to rule out the presence of such diseases. He may order an ultrasound scan of the kidneys to assess the extent of their development.
In addition, the child may be referred to a geneticist if the doctor suspects other disorders.
In some cases, microtia appears along with other craniofacial syndromes. If the attending physician suspects the presence of such pathologies, the child is referred for consultation to surgeons or therapists for further assessment of the condition and prescribing additional treatment.
The main treatments for microtia
Some parents do not want to have surgery on their child. If it is still very small, ear canal reconstructive surgery will be contraindicated. The operation can be done when the baby is older. Operations for microtia are easier for older children, since there is already a larger amount of cartilage for transplantation. It is these approaches that are followed when treatment of microtia in Israel.
Some babies born with this anomaly may wear non-surgical hearing aids. However, such devices can also be used only if there is a whole ear canal.
1. Operation for transplantation of costal cartilage
If the parents choose a rib cartilage transplant, then this treatment will take from 2 to 4 procedures and a period from several months to 1 year. The costal cartilage is transplanted from the baby’s breast and used to shape the ear. It is then implanted under the skin where the healthy ear would be.
After the new cartilage is implanted in the right place, the child may be prescribed additional surgeries, as well as skin grafts to improve the appearance of the auricle. This operation is recommended for children from 8 to 10 years old.
The costal cartilage has a fairly strong and durable structure. The small patient’s own body tissues are also more likely to be good grafts. The disadvantages of this intervention can be pain and possible scarring at the site of tissue transplantation. The implant itself will feel harder than natural ear cartilage.
2. Reconstruction with artificial implant Medpor
This type of ear reconstruction involves the implantation of artificial material rather than the child’s own tissue. Typically, this therapy is performed in just one procedure and for this you can use tissue from the skull to cover the material of the synthetic ear.
This procedure is absolutely safe for children under 3 years of age. The results of this treatment are more effective than those of a costal cartilage transplant. However, in some cases, there is an increased risk of infection and implant loss due to trauma.
3. Prosthetics of the outer ear
This treatment allows the creation of an aesthetic replica of the auricle that can be worn with glue or with an operatively inserted anchoring system. The procedure for installing such devices does not last long, and the rehabilitation time is minimized.
The procedure is a good method of therapy for those children who could not undergo a surgical recovery or it was contraindicated for them. However, some children may have difficulty wearing a removable denture.
Other patients may have hypersensitivity to medical adhesives.
4. Operatively implanted hearing aids
In some cases, treatment with a cochlear implant is quite effective if the patient is diagnosed with hearing impairment.
After completing the treatment, the child receives a processor that can be connected to a special site. Such a processor helps the child to hear sound vibrations by stimulating the nerve endings in the inner ear.
Vibration-inducing devices can also help improve your child’s hearing. They are worn on the scalp and connected to implants. In turn, they connect to the middle ear and send vibrations directly to the inner ear.
These hearing aids often take a short time to heal at the site of surgery.
However, side effects such as:
damage to nerve endings;
loss of hearing;
noise in ears.
The patient may also have an increased risk of developing infections in the skin around the implantation site.
The effect of microtia on ordinary life
Some babies born with this diagnosis may experience partial or complete hearing loss, which can significantly impair the quality of their hearing.