Microtia Ear Reconstruction

Microtia is a congenital deformity that occurs in 1 out of 8,000 – 10,000 births. Microtia can affect one (unilateral microtia) or both (bilateral microtia) ears. The right ear is most often affected in unilateral microtia.

Children born with microtia will have a severely undeveloped external ear structure. There are four grades of microtia, which are classified based on the severity of underdevelopment. These grades are:

  • Grade I: Identifiable structures of the external ear are present, but are not completely developed. The external ear canal is present, but smaller than normal.
  • Grade II: External ear is underdeveloped and the external ear canal is closed, which causes hearing loss.
  • Grade III: Structures of the external ear, ear canal, and eardrum are all absent. A small knob-like structure is present in place of the typical ear structure. This is the most common type of microtia.
  • Grade IV: Complete absence of the entire ear. This grade is called anotia.

Once the healing process is complete, the ear becomes a living part of the patient’s body for life, which is why this approach is preferable for younger patients.

At this time, scientists have not pinpointed an exact cause of microtia.

Pediatric microtia surgery has a very high success rate. For young patients, Dr. Morin typically recommends rib cartilage graft reconstruction, which involves harvesting the patient’s own rib cartilage and using it to constrict the new ear. In order to construct the new ear, there must be enough rib cartilage available. As such, the surgery is usually performed on children who are at least 9 years old. The procedure is performed in two stages, spaced 6 months apart.

zoom-picMicrotia ear reconstruction - photo

Surgical Ear Reconstruction

Stage 1 of pediatric microtia surgery

Dr. Morin carefully removes rib cartilage from the patient and expertly shapes it into the framework of an ear. He then inserts the cartilage framework beneath the skin. The position of the reconstructed ear is based upon the position of the normal ear on the other side. When both ears are absent, Dr. Morin uses his extensive knowledge of pediatric facial anatomy to determine the best location of the ears.

Stage 2 of pediatric microtia surgery

During the second operation, the back of the ear is elevated and a skin graft is used to give it the appropriate amount of projection. Once the healing process is complete, the ear will continue to grow with the child for life, which is why this approach is preferable for younger patients.

Choose Dr. Morin for microtia surgery

Dr. Morin is facial plastic surgeon who is highly experienced in performing pediatric microtia surgery. He had the opportunity to work side by side with Dr. Francoise Firmin, one of the world’s masters of ear reconstruction, while on a surgical mission to Columbia. During this time, he learned the subtle points of pediatric ear reconstruction and has since incorporated these specialized techniques into his treatment of patients with microtia. Thanks to the adoption of these techniques, his keen sense of facial aesthetics and surgical skill, and his compassionate approach, Dr. Morin has become one of the leading providers of pediatric microtia surgery in the New York and New Jersey.

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