What is Microtia?
Microtia is an incompletely formed ear. It ranges in severity from a bump of tissue to a partially formed ear. In most cases, only one ear is affected. In that case, it is called Unilateral Microtia. If both ears are affected, it is called Bilateral Microtia. Unilateral Microtia occurs in 1 out of 8,000 births and Bilateral Microtia occurs in 1 out of 25,000 births.
Why did this happen?
At this time, no one knows why Microtia occurs; however, there is nothing to suggest that the mother's actions during pregnancy caused the Microtia. Further research is necessary to determine the exact cause.
Will this happen to other children I have in the future?
The possibility of passing microtia on to another child is believed to be less than 6%.
What kinds of problems could my child have?
- In addition to the physical characteristics, your child may have some or all of these problems:
- About a 40% reduction of hearing in the affected ear
- Problems locating the direction from which a sound comes
- Ear infections
Will my child need surgery?
Your child will either require reconstructive surgery to rebuild the outer ear or he/she may wish to wear a prosthesis. There are several types of prostheses and ear implants that are currently available. We suggest gathering information about all the options and visiting with others who have chosen different options. The choices are increasing every year, so try to keep up with all of the current research. If you choose reconstructive surgery, it is a 3 to 4 step process, usually done two to three months apart. Surgical procedures usually begin around 6 years of age, because the ear is 90% of its adult size, so it is easier to determine the size of the ear that must be made.
- Portions of ribs 5, 6, 7, and 8 are carved into the shape of the external ear
- The ear is then grafted into place and the overlying skin is draped onto the graft
- Other operations may be needed to rotate the lobule and possibly to reposition the cartilage framework into it's final position
New advances in procedures to treat Microtia are constantly being made. Be an advocate for your child!
How do I get help for my child?
Your child should be treated by a qualified craniofacial medical team at a craniofacial center. Currently, FACES has information on many of these teams. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the craniofacial teams; however, not all of the centers perform microtia surgery. Please contact FACES for details.
Am I alone?
No! There are many families and organizations who will be glad to talk with you and help you with information and support. Don't forget books, videos, and web sites. The following list will get you started.
FACES: The National Craniofacial Association
P. O. Box 11082
Chattanooga, TN 37401
We provide financial support for non-medical expenses to patients traveling to a craniofacial center for treatment. Eligibility is based on financial and medical need. Resources include newsletters, information about craniofacial conditions, and networking opportunities.
Online Internet discussion support group
This excellent resource is under the direction of Steve Kazemir and includes 1400 members from all over the world who discuss all issues regarding Atresia and Microtia. Steve also has a webpage that is dedicated to Atresia and Microtia at www.stevesplace.ca/atresiamicrotia
Dr. Burt Brent's website www.earsurgery.com is a good source for information on Microtia.
The Craniofacial Center
Dr. Jeffery A. Fearon, MD, FACS, FAAP, Director
7777 Forest Lane, Suite C-700
Dallas, TX 75230
Visit Dr. Jeffrey Fearon's informative website that is very lay friendly and easy to understand.
National Health Law Program
1444 I Street NW, Suite 1105
Washington, DC 20005
Provides extensive information on health care law affecting families with children who have special health care needs.
Children with Facial Difference:
A Parent's Guide
Written by Hope Charkins, MSW. Order from Amazon.com if you cannot find it in your local bookstore. Excellent resource for parents to help them cope with medical, emotional, social, educational, legal, and financial challenges present by facial differences of their children.
The following web sites contain excellent information pertaining to microtia: