Friday, June 22, 2012

Microtia Treatment: Looking At Surgical Options

Microtia treatment can take a number of forms, both surgical and otherwise. The condition being treated is somewhat rare-estimated to occur in one out of 10,000 births. It consists of a deformity in either or both ears which manifests as underdeveloped cartilage. In many cases, it is associated with other disorders, such as Treacher-Collins Syndrome. While it does not always cause hearing loss, that is a distinct possibility. Sometimes the deformity extends to the eardrum and the canal, which can cause issues with hearing. If your child has been diagnosed with the condition, here are some of the surgical options available to you.
Rib Graft
One of the most popular forms of microtia treatment, the rib graft includes taking cartilage from the ribs of the patient and using that as a replacement for the ear's natural cartilage. While invasive, the doctor should be skilled enough to reduce the risks considerably. This surgery can be intensive, however, and it often takes several stages to complete. The rib cartilage has to be harvested and molded and then sewn into a flap beneath the skull. From there, the surgeon must create the earlobe. Finally, the surgeon has to release is from the scalp skin, giving it that natural, pull-away appearance and perform a skin graft. The end result may not look like a perfect ear, but it will be a much closer approximation.
Medpor Surgery
Instead of using cartilage from the patient's ribs, the Medpor technique does the same thing using synthetic materials which can then be carved and molded to match the existing tissue. This material is made from polyethylene, a substance that has been used in various forms of reconstructive surgery for years, in addition to being utilized to treat microtia. The major benefits of choosing this operation is that it can be done in just a single stage and is, of course, much less invasive. The cons, of course, are that the material is not natural. Though even this is mitigated by eventual vascularization, which can allow the patient to feel sensations such as pain in the ear.
Non Surgical Options
There are non surgical options for anyone with microtia. The most obvious of which is, of course, the choice to do nothing. Some forms of the condition will not affect the hearing, in which case the choice is purely cosmetic. If your ears are merely underdeveloped and small, as opposed to markedly disfigured, this may be a viable option. Prosthetics are also an option that many people choose. These prosthetic ears can look extremely real. Talk to your doctor about choosing one of these options if you don't like the idea of surgery.

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