A birth defect or also known as a congenital anomaly is any medical condition that a person possesses from his or her birth, this means that this defect is acquired while he or she is still in the womb. One of the many birth defects that a baby is at risk for is microtia which is a deformity of the ear or ears. Thankfully, this type of birth defect can be treated, and with experts on microtia surgery in New York, you have a better chance of giving your child a normal life.
Most of these congenital anomalies do not have a specific or obvious cause. There are also some congenital defects that are genetic and there are some that affect the organ or just a single body part. There are also other congenital anomalies that affect how the bodywork, body development, or the senses.
Around 3% of pregnancies are being affected by these congenital anomalies, however, it is still possible to reduce the chances of some of these irregularities.
Why Does Microtia Happen?
In cases of microtia, it has a rare hereditary pattern, and studies reveal that in 5% of patients, there is a member of the immediate family that has an ear abnormality. But there is evidence that suggests that there are a lot of complicated factors that cause Microtia like an interruption of the blood supply to the ear during the development stage.
Treatment Options for Children with Microtia
There are three treatment options for children with microtia. The first one is the Silicone Removable Ear Prosthetic, the second one is the Rib Cartilage Reconstruction, and the third one is the MEDPOR Ear Reconstruction.
Treatment Option #1 – The Silicon Ear Prosthetic
This treatment option involves creating a prosthetic ear that can look very similar to the patient’s normal ear. The specialist involved in making and coloring the prosthesis is called the prosthodontist. This treatment option has two methods that are being used in attaching the ear prosthesis.
The first method uses a glue that will adhere the ear to the skin, and the second method uses titanium implants that are placed in the bone that is around the ear. This prosthesis will be snapped into place – this method I also called osteo-integrated prosthesis.
The advantages of the Silicon Ear Prosthetic treatment are the following:
- The patient will have a very realistic looking ear
- This treatment involves a simpler process with lesser risk than that of surgical reconstruction
- This treatment will provide an option for patients who are not candidates for a surgical procedure.
The disadvantages of the Silicon Ear Prosthetic treatment are the following:
- The patient will have difficulty in hiding the seam that is between the prosthesis and the cheek normal skin
- The color of the prosthesis will fade and deteriorate thus the prosthesis will require replacement every 2 to 3 years.
- There is a chance that the child will lose the prosthesis during sport or rough play
- The prosthesis will need removal every night and have it replaced every morning
Treatment Option #2 – Reconstruction Using Rib Cartilage
This treatment option is a more invasive technique as this will require 2 to 5 hours of surgeries. This will also require cartilage that is sufficient enough for an adult-sized ear, thus this procedure needs to be delayed until the child is between 7 to 10 years old. The first step in this procedure is that the cartilage from several ribs will be removed through an incision on the chest of the child. And then the cartilage will be carved and pieced together in order to create an ear framework. This framework will then be buried under the scalp and after the ear has been healed, there will be another series of surgeries that will be needed in order to complete the reconstruction like elevating the ear away from the scalp, then repositioning the earlobe and other necessary adjustments.
The advantages of Rib Cartilage Reconstruction are the following:
- This treatment will use the own tissue of the child’s body
- The patient will have an excellent and long-lasting result
- As compared to prosthetics, the reconstructed ear can withstand the rigors of most types of sports
The disadvantages of Rib Cartilage Reconstruction are the following:
- This treatment will be requiring long hours of surgery (around 2 to 5 hours)
- Because this treatment will require a delay, the microtia of the child will be more noticeable
- The removal of the cartilage is painful thus requiring hospitalization. There will be IV pain medications, and the child will have a permanent chest scar and can have a potential deformity of the chest wall.
- The canal surgery will not start until the ear has been completely reconstructed, this means that hearing restoration will be delayed for years.
Treatment Option #3 – Ear Reconstruction using MEDPOR®
The MEDPOR® ear reconstruction will be using a porous polyethylene framework and the own tissue of the child in order to form the ear. With MEDPOR® ear reconstruction, scarring will also be minimal and usually begin when the child reaches 3 years old. If there is only one ear involved, the MEDPOR® framework will be customized in order to match the normal ear of the child but it will be a little bit larger so that the ear will be adult-sized.
The advantages of the MEDPOR® Ear Reconstruction are the following:
- Reconstruction can be done as soon as the child reaches 3 years old without having the need for future surgeries.
- Ear canal reconstruction can start before or simultaneous with the ear reconstruction procedure in the event that the child has hearing loss
- The MEDPOR® procedure will not be that much painful, so the child can then go home one hour after the procedure.
The disadvantages of the MEDPOR® Ear Reconstruction are the following:
- This framework being used is a foreign material.
- There are only a few people in the world that have been trained with this surgery, thus if the surgeon is inexperienced then it may end up having poor results.
- The longevity of the implant used in this procedure is still not known.