Hearing loss is a common problem associated with microtia, which is a congenital malformation (birth defect) of the ear. While the condition may be subtle at first, a child with microtia may develop speech and communication delays if any hearing problems are not addressed. For this reason, early auditory testing, speech therapy, and hearing correction is of primary importance for patients diagnosed with microtia.
The Ear Surgery Center of Excellence in Los Angeles boasts an expert team of plastic reconstructive surgeons and otolaryngologists, specializing in the treatment of ear injury and congenital deformity. Led by facial plastic surgeon Dr. Carlo Honrado, our doctors are highly skilled in the treatment of microtia and are dedicated to providing each patient with comprehensive, individualized care for their condition.
To learn more about microtia and the latest treatment options, contact the Ear Surgery Center of Excellence at (888) 281-8537.
Types of Hearing Loss
Patients and parents of children with microtia often worry that their deformity will cause complete hearing loss in the affected ear. Fortunately, the large majority of individuals with microtia suffer from a less severe form of hearing impairment that can be corrected. There are two types of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss – This form of hearing loss can be described as difficulty transmitting sound from the outer ear to the inner ear due to loss or obstruction of the middle and external ear canal. The predominant form of hearing loss associated with microtia is conductive.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – This form of hearing loss involves a problem with the tiny hairs or the nerves of the inner ear that transmit signals to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss is present in 10-15 percent of patients with microtia.
The more severe form of hearing loss, sensorineural, is rare because the inner ear forms at a different time of development than the external ear. Therefore, it is usually unaffected by microtia. Even with the complete absence of the external ear and middle canal (atresia), some sound can still reach the inner ear through very subtle vibrations. Auditory tests are used to confirm the type and severity of hearing loss and can suggest eligibility for hearing correction.
Treatments for Microtia and Hearing Loss
Thanks to advances in auditory processing equipment and surgical technique, individuals with microtia now have a number of options when it comes to hearing restoration. Our doctors offer the following methods of hearing correction to patients with moderate to severe forms of unilateral microtia and all cases of bilateral microtia:
- Bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA)
- Auditory processor with headband
- Ear canal surgery (atresiaplasty)
The BAHA system is the most common form of treatment for hearing correction among both children and adults. It is composed of an external sound processor to amplify and convert sound into vibrations and a small titanium implant that is fused with the skull bone and transfers sound vibrations to the inner ear. The implant is surgically placed behind the ear as an outpatient procedure. Young children who are not eligible for surgery may wear a similar auditory processor, held in place with a headband, though this is generally not as effective as a BAHA.
Atresiaplasty attempts to restore natural hearing to the ear by reconstructing the affected ear canal. The procedure involves surgically opening a new canal through the temporal bone, manipulating the orientation of the middle ear bones, constructing a new tympanic membrane (eardrum), and lining the new canal with a thin skin graft. Eligibility factors for atresiaplasty include age, anatomy of the middle ear bones, inner ear functionality, and the course of the facial nerve around the inner ear. This is a complex procedure that requires careful navigation of the facial nerve and inner ear structures.
Ear canal surgery has an estimated 90 percent success rate at achieving normal to near normal hearing when performed by an experienced ear surgeon.
Contact a Microtia Specialist in Los Angeles
Ultimately, the decision to undergo hearing correction surgery must be discussed between patient, their family, and physician in order to develop the most effective treatment strategy. At the Ear Surgery Center of Excellence, our goal is to provide the highest quality of care in a safe, state-of-the-art environment. Our ear surgeons have trained at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country and utilize advanced surgical techniques to provide the most natural looking results.
Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation by calling (888) 281-8537 or filling out our website’s contact form.
Next, learn health tips for living with microtia.