Congenital external ear conditions and how to deal with them:
Otoplasty is the collective name given to all medical procedures that deal with deformities occurring in the outer part of the ear. It treats conditions that are present by birth (such as protruding or missing external portion etc.) or are caused by an accident later in life that damages the cartilage or causes deformation. The job of the surgeon that conducts the otoplasty procedure is to get rid of the defect by reconstructing the outer part (pinna) in a manner that the resultant looks completely organic and natural. The whole process involves manipulating the existing cartilage in the deformed area into a proper shape. This branch of plastic surgery isn’t just for those individuals who suffer from a disfiguration; anyone who isn’t satisfied with the appearance of their ears can alter its appearance through these procedures.
This article discusses the primary congenital condition that can be corrected by otoplasty i.e. microtia and its most advanced phase, anotia, a condition thought to be rooted in a genetic anomaly.
There are four stages in which microtia occurs:
Stage 1: The first stage is the mere existence of a slightly underdeveloped out ear in which all parts are intact but slightly reduced in appearance.
Stage 2: The second stage is characterized by underdevelopment as well as conductive loss in hearing attributed to the outer ear canal being closed.
Stage 3: The third stage is the most frequently occurring one, in which merely a miniscule peanut-shaped structure is apparent without any canal or drum.
Stage 4: Anotia is the name given to the last stage; those who suffer from it have the external projection of this sense organ completely missing coupled with a thinned out or completely absent canal. This condition can occur in just one or both ears and can lead to a reduction in conductive hearing and even deafness in some cases.
Both conditions imply the partial or complete absence of the pinna and are often considered as warning signs for other more serious medical issues such as Treacher-Collins Syndrome or the Goldenhar Syndrome.
There are a number of otoplasty procedures that may be performed to correct the shape of the ears of those suffering from this condition:
Rib Cartilage Graft Reconstruction:
This technique uses rib cartilage from the patient’s own body to be shaped in the form of a natural human ear. Because living tissue from the patient’s body is utilized in this method, it continues to grow normally once the surgery has been completed. A physician can start working on this surgery as early as six months after the birth of the patient, and more than one procedure maybe needed in order to reach the desired end result.
Reconstruction by means of a polyethylene implant:
This procedure uses porous framework to grow tissue into the plastic, by using the tissue flap of the patient that results in a completely original ear in one sitting. A second minor surgery may be required to make slight modifications. This technique requires the patient to be at least three years of age, but it has the advantage of eliminating the restriction of being stuck in a hospital.
An artificial organ is constructed to match the appearance of natural human ears. This technique has the advantage of creating the most natural appearance for the patient, but this comes at the cost of requiring daily care, albeit for a few moments. The prosthetic is attached by an adhesive or by means of screws made from titanium that fit into the skull.
This blog post is an educational resource only and does not replace a medical consultation with a doctor .
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