Plastic, Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery - Ear Reconstruction, for Microtia and Trauma in Australia
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Hearing in Microtia

In some cases of microtia the hearing may be normal or partly reduced and not require any treatment. Patients with microtia may not have an external ear canal, but this does not necessarily mean that they cannot hear on that side, as the inner ear can still be normal. In others, there may be problems with the formation of the middle ear which can affect hearing.

A CT scan will usually be performed to check the anatomy of the inner ear. Patients will also have an audiogram (hearing test) to check the hearing in both of the ears.

In the past, patients who had a normal inner ear but no ear canal underwent surgery to re-create the ear canal which leads to the eardrum. This is complex surgery which can cause injury to the facial nerve which controls the muscles of the face. There are also problems with the hole which is created shrinking over time and closing up again. The ear canal also looks too large and is not in the anatomically correct position, which can affect the appearance of the ear.

At the Westmead Children's Hospital Microtia Clinic, we do not operate for hearing if the patient has normal hearing in the other ear. Children can develop normally as long as the hearing is unaffected in one ear. If both ears are affected, then a bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is usually the best option. This avoids the complications and the poor success rates associated with surgery to reconstruct the ear canal, and this is also the approach used in France and England by the well known ear surgeons.

In the future in may be possible to use cochlear implants to transmit sound waves directly to the inner ear if there is no ear canal.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 01 October 2008 )
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Dr Nicholas Lotz, MBBS BSc(Med) FRACS