Microtia and Ear Deformities in Dallas, TX
For over 40 years, the International Craniofacial Institute in Dallas, Texas has been treating those with ear deformities or microtia – a malformation of the external parts of the ear, sometimes extending to include absence of the ear canal.
What Is Microtia?
Microtia is a malformation of one or both ears. The outer ear (pinna) may be small, malformed, low-set, or completely absent with only skin tags to indicate any growth. Rarely (one in 25,000 live births), it may occur on both ears, known as bilateral microtia. Most of the time, it affects only one ear, known as unilateral microtia (one in 8,000 live births). Interestingly, it usually affects only the right side. Boys have microtia more often than girls.
What Is Bilateral Microtia?
Bilateral is a medical term meaning that the condition affects both sides of the body while having the condition on one side only is known as unilateral. Microtia is a condition in which the pinna, or the external part of the ear, is underdeveloped. In those with anotia, the external ear could be missing entirely. Cases of microtia are graded on a scale of one to four, with one being a mild malformation and four being a complete absence of the ear and ear canal. Cases where the ear canal is not present will affect hearing, making surgical correction a near-necessity even if the aesthetics are not a concern.
Classifications of Microtia
- Grade 1: The external ear development is not complete but structures are identifiable, and a small external ear canal is present.
- Grade 2: Usually the top portion of the ear is underdeveloped but the external ear canal is closed, which can lead to hearing loss.
- Grade 3: The external ear is absent, as is the external ear canal and ear drum.
- Grade 4: Absence of the complete ear.
How Do Congenital Ear Anomalies Occur?
Congenital (present at birth) ear anomalies may occur independently or within a variety of different syndromes. Genetic diseases such as Treacher-Collins syndrome and Goldenhar syndrome can cause the ears to be deformed or not develop at all. The use of the popular acne medication Accutane has been linked to microtia, as has the use of Thalidomide, which is still used today for treating cancer and leprosy. Many ear anomalies are idiopathic, meaning that no discernible cause can be found.
What Are the Causes of Microtia?
Although we don’t yet understand the cause of microtia, it can be treated with great success.
How Is Microtia Diagnosed?
Microtia is external, even in its least-severe forms, so it is immediately obvious when the child is born. If the mother has a high-resolution ultrasound performed, it’s also possible to see the malformation before birth.
How Is Microtia Treated?
In all cases, an exterior sound conduction device is critical for proper sound/speech formation. Often, it is possible for children without an exterior ear opening to hear after corrective surgery. Depending on the extent of the condition, ear reconstruction may be needed. Usually, this is a two-stage surgery (based on the Japanese technique of Dr. Safor Nagata) beginning at age 8-10 when the ears have reached about 90 percent of their adult size.
Why Choose International Craniofacial Institute?
Since its founding by Dr. Kenneth Salyer in 1971, the International Craniofacial Institute has gained worldwide recognition as being one of the most advanced facilities in the treatment of craniofacial disorders. The complexity of the field means we understand our patients have an array of dental, medical, psychosocial, and surgical needs. To address these issues, our team consists of many dedicated professionals who represent more than 15 disciplines of specialty. Our physicians have successfully treated more than 17,000 patients from more than 30 different countries. We additionally train surgeons from many world locations in the advanced techniques required for craniofacial diagnosis, surgical correction, and repair.
If you have a child or another family member who is suffering from a genetic syndrome or has a cleft lip, cleft palate, or craniofacial complication, the staff at the International Craniofacial Institute can help. Contact us today to talk with the doctors and staff about your options and how we can help.