Unfortunately, microtia isn’t only about the atypical size and shape of the earlobe. Parents and pediatricians are more concerned about the partial or full hearing loss children with microtia will experience. Emphasis must be made that hearing loss has adverse effects on speech and language development, as well as on personal interactions.
The good news is that there are more than a few surgical options for the treatment of microtia. You and your child’s pediatric surgeon will discuss the risks and rewards of these options. You have to remember, too, that surgery may not yet be an option for your child, such as when he’s too young for it.
Rib Cartilage Graft Surgery
This is possibly the most complicated surgical treatment for microtia since it involves several procedures over several months, sometimes up to a year. Due to the possible complications, it’s only recommended for older children, usually between 8 and 10 years old.
Basically, rib cartilage is harvested from the patient’s chest. It’s then used in creating the shape of the external ear before being implanted under the skin where the ear should have been present. But the process doesn’t stop there.
More skin grafts and surgeries may be performed in addition to the new cartilage. These surgeries are done to ensure better positioning of the external ear.
The pros of rib cartilage graft surgery is that rib cartilage from the patient is less likely to be rejected by his body and it’s a sturdier material. But there may be pain, discomfort and scarring in the grafting site.
Medpor Graft Surgery
The Medpor graft surgery involves lesser number of times under the knife and younger age of patients than rib cartilage graft surgery. Basically, a synthetic material is implanted into the external ear to mimic its form and function. It’s then covered by scalp tissue, a way of achieving a more natural appearance.
It’s usually completed in a single session so children are less traumatized by the procedure. In fact, children as young as 3 years old are suitable candidates.
The results are more consistent since the synthetic material can be manipulated than a rib graft. But there are also risks to the Medpor graft surgery including the higher risk of infection. Children are also more likely to lose the implant due to physical trauma or injury.
There’s also the matter of pediatric surgeons either not offering or performing Medford graft surgery because the length of time that the implant lasts isn’t established yet. But if your pediatric surgeon can perform it, you may want to consider it.
If these two surgical options aren’t viable or successful for any reason, you may want to consider ear prosthetics. These look natural and, in fact, can be made based on the size of the normal ear. These can also be attached through an implanted anchor system or worn with a skin-friendly adhesive.
If you would like to learn more about microtia and its surgical options for children, please consult HK ENT specialist.
HK ENT Specialist Ltd.
Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre
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