Microtia is a condition in which an individual, usually a child, has a deformed ear. This condition is congenital and almost always has the outer ear as underdeveloped or is minute. Some cases affect both sides while n others it is just one sided. In singular cases or unilateral ones, the right ear is the one that is usually affected. Doctors say that the occurrence of this congenital condition may be the result of the mother using isotretinoin during pregnancy. Hearing is commonly affected by this deformity and the degree of the effect varies among the patients. There are four grades or levels of microtia that can occur. The grades are classified according to how much of the outer ear or pinna is present or absent.
Before any step for treatment or correction can be done, several tests are run to ensure the candidacy of the patient. When the child is less than a month old, about two weeks, he or she can be tested for an auditory response test. This can determine how much the child can hear ad tell the doctors about the quality of his or her hearing. This will help them determine if the condition has also affected the hearing ability of the child. A CT scan is also necessary when the child has reached the age of five or six years old in order to determine how developed the middle ear is. This may be the time that surgeons can establish how good a candidate the individual is for surgery.
In spite of this, there are times when surgery can be done as early as three years old and even at six years old. These operations are dependent on what kind of technique the surgeon will use. The results of the screening can also dictate what technique is to be used for the operation. Usually, surgeons prefer to operate on their charges when their ears are somewhat nearing maturity in size and development. The ear may need to be closer to the size of an adult before any move can be taken to improve the hearing and operate on it to improve its appearance. The most common grade or level of microtia is the third level, where the outer ear is almost totally absent except for a protuberance that one can identify where it is. The inner ear is usually intact but the eardrum may be missing.
There are two basic methods to correct microtia. Both methods reconstruct the outer ear and also the ear canal in order to improve or to restore hearing for the individual. The main difference between the two techniques is the material used to reconstruct the outer ear and the ear canal. The surgeon will study all the data and factors he has amassed and these will dictate whether he will use living tissue or synthetic material for the operation. The surgeon and the parents of the child will need to discuss the many nuances and aspects of the surgical procedure. It is not only what the surgeon can achieve that is the basis of the operation but what is more important is what is best for the child.