Microtia

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is a leading provider of craniofacial and plastic surgery for patients who have complex conditions, such as microtia. We provide expert evaluations and treatments in facilities designed specifically for children and families. Our team uses advanced surgical techniques and is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes in both appearance and function. Gillette specialists work closely with patients and their families to create a customized treatment plan.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Our fellowship-trained pediatric craniofacial and plastic surgeons understand the unique needs of children who have microtia, including how the condition affects their appearance and function.
  • Our experts collaborate to provide comprehensive treatments that maximize results.
  • Our state-of-the-art technology and facilities are designed specifically for your needs.
  • We believe that people who have complex conditions like microtia deserve a lifetime of excellent health care—from birth through adulthood.

Definition

Microtia is an incompletely or abnormally formed ear. The condition ranges in severity, from a bump of tissue to a partially formed ear.


Microtia Types

There are two forms of microtia:

  • Unilateral (affects one ear)
  • Bilateral (affects both ears)

There are four grades of microtia:

  • Grade 1: The ear might be small, but the ear canal is typically open and the outer ear has most of the features of a normally formed ear.
  • Grade 2: The ear might be small and missing some features. The ear canal might be open or closed.
  • Grade 3: The ear canal is usually closed and a small bud of cartilage might be present. The ear lobe might be present, but in an atypical position.
  • Grade 4: Most of the ear is completely missing.

Microtia Symptoms and Effects

In addition to having an ear with an abnormal physical appearance, children might experience:

  • Reduced hearing (by roughly 40 percent) in the affected ear
  • Problems locating the direction of sounds
  • Frequent ear infections

Microtia Incidence, Causes and Risk Factors

Further research is necessary to determine the exact cause of microtia. There are no indications that it is caused by the mother's actions during pregnancy. The possibility of passing microtia on to another child is believed to be less than 6 percent. Unilateral microtia occurs in 1 out of 8,000 births and bilateral microtia occurs in 1 out of 25,000 births.


Microtia Tests and Treatments

Because children are born with microtia, a diagnosis is typically made immediately after birth following a physical examination. Shortly after birth, we recommend a hearing test to determine if there is hearing loss in the affected ear or in both ears.

Our experts in audiology might perform auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing to evaluate how sound travels through the hearing nerve pathways from the ear to the brainstem. The test uses electrodes to measure the brain’s reaction to sounds and to show how well a patient’s auditory system is working.

No Treatment

Patients who have mild cases of microtia might choose not to have surgical treatment or use a prosthetic ear.

Reconstructive Surgery

Most children have reconstructive surgery to rebuild the outer ear. Reconstructive surgery is a three- to four-step process completed over two or three months. Surgical procedures usually begin around age 6, when the ear is 90 percent of its adult size, making it easier to determine the size of the ear that must be created.

Ear Implant

When reconstructive surgery isn’t possible, an ear implant might be recommended as an alternative treatment. This procedure involves minor surgery and can achieve realistic-looking results.

Prosthetic Ear

A prosthetic ear is a nonsurgical treatment option. The prosthesis attaches to the skull, creating the appearance of a real ear.


Microtia Services

Patients who have microtia often have many needs in addition to craniofacial and plastic surgery services. That’s why Gillette brings together the services our patients need in a way that’s both comprehensive and convenient.

For more information about the services we offer at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.