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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
The care and treatment of a child with microtia depends on the severity of the case. Some children will need a series of operations, while others might not need any treatment at all.
Though the prospect of your child needing a surgical procedure is worrisome, it’s important to remember that these procedures have excellent success rates.
The most common type of operation for microtia we perform at Boston Children’s is called autologous auricular construction. During this operation, specially trained pediatric plastic surgeons will take cartilage from your child’s ribcage and use it to “plant” a new ear on the affected side of the head. The process uses your child’s own tissue, so if the new ear is ever injured it can heal itself just as a natural ear would.
Autologous construction is performed when a child is 6 years of age or older. He/she needs to be old enough to have sufficient rib cartilage to “spare”, and 6 years is about the age when the ear on the other side (if applicable) will reach its approximate adult size—so the surgeons can be sure to line up the new ear to match it.
Yes. Autologous construction usually requires three procedures in total, depending on the type and severity of your child’s microtia. Procedures are typically scheduled six months apart to allow your child time to heal.
First procedure Surgeons remove some cartilage from the ribcage to build a new ear.
Second procedure Surgeons refine and reposition the new earlobe.
Third procedure Surgeons lift the new ear for better alignment and perform “touch-ups” as needed.
It is possible that your child also may need an operation on the middle or inner ear. In that case, surgeons will perform the procedure after the last operation is done.
While your child’s reconstructed ear will not look exactly like his other ear, it will greatly improve his/her appearance (and will allow practical things like wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses).
In general, we recommend autologous construction as the most effective treatment for microtia. It offers children a comfortable new ear that feels natural, facilitates the use of eyewear, boosts self-esteem and improves their quality of life. At the same time, we understand that every child and family is different. Your doctors will work with you to decide on the right option.
Alternatives to autologous construction include:
If your child has a hearing problem related to microtia, she/he will be followed by an audiologist (hearing specialist) and an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat expert). Together, the team will:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”