Understanding Microtia & Ear Prosthetics

Microtia is a congenital disability that develops in the first few weeks of pregnancy and leads to underdeveloped ears. As per research, 1 in every 2000 to 10000 babies in the United States alone are born with this defect. The cause, in most cases, is considered to be purely genetic. However, ingesting isotretinoin during pregnancy has been linked with the development of this deformity. Apart from this, a combination of genetic factors, as well as the diet a mother takes during the pregnancy and the medicines she takes, can affect the unborn child. This is one of the congenital disabilities that can result from negligence in the care of the expecting mother. Eating a diet low in folic acid and carbohydrates or having diabetes before getting pregnant are two high-risk categories of pregnancies that can result in the child being born with this congenital anomaly.

How is it Diagnosed?

Whether or not the child needs microtia treatment can be decided as per the appearance of the baby’s ear post-birth. However, a CT can be ordered to get a detailed image of the ear. These tests are necessary to determine whether bones and other structures are affected, which is necessary to decide the course of treatment.

What are the Treatment Options?

Before starting the treatment, an audiologist will check the hearing capacity of the child’s affected ear. There can be a need for the child to wear a hearing aid upon growing up and starting school. Wearing a hearing aid is often deemed essential to avert potential speech development issues. The external ear can be reconstructed with surgery, usually performed when the child is between 4 and 10 years old. However, children with this deformity, if they aren’t affected by any other congenital disabilities, can lead healthy lives. They may require counseling and support as they grow up and realize this difference that sets them apart from other children. But in the right kind of environment, these kids can develop and grow like every other child.

Prosthetic Ear

Another treatment option that one can opt for is a prosthetic ear to restore the appearance of the external ear. Many patients who opt for a prosthesis get their underdeveloped ear removed surgically, which is a part of this microtia ear treatment. However, several patients and their parents choose not to get it removed surgically. This is also done to save cartilage and skin, which will be helpful if and when the surgical technologies for reconstruction further advance. A prosthesis often fits over the small ear and helps patients know what it’s like to not look or feel different.
In some cases, if the child isn’t old enough to give consent for surgical reconstruction, the family opts for a prosthesis. The parents often do this so their child can decide whether or not he wants to undergo treatment. However, getting a prosthesis over other treatment options has been popular amongst patients of all ages. This is because the prosthesis fits over the little ear like a glove, and with proper care and usage, it can be quite comfortable to wear on a regular basis.
If you are wondering how a prosthetic ear can be comfortable, you should know that before the patient gets one, he’s called in for a sculpting appointment. This is done to take accurate facial measurements and determine anatomical landmarks to customize the prosthesis. Every patient’s ear is different, and the prosthetic expert requires precise measurements to start making a prosthetic ear.
That being said, it is vital to understand that microtia can severely affect the confidence of a child. People notice the difference and often say things they aren’t supposed to, either out of malice or lack of knowledge about this defect. In this case, parents must help the child build confidence and seek professional aid when required. If you are a parent of a child with this congenital malformation, you will have to get more than just a prosthesis or treatment. The child will need encouragement, and you have to be ready to motivate them.