Types of Ear Deformities
Ear deformities are one of the most common birth defects, experienced by roughly 45% of newborns. Despite their frequency, ear deformities are often overlooked by parents and hospital staff.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that can correct these common ear deformities. In many cases, the earlier corrective medical treatment is done, the better.
With today’s technology and improved knowledge of ear deformities, corrective treatment can be done on newborns shortly after birth.
Below are some of the most common ear deformities. Some ear deformities improve, and may even go away over time by their own, some may require medical treatment in the form of corrective surgery and some ear deformities can’t be properly treated.
The Helical Rim is the folded “C” shaped part of the outer ear. Sometimes this part of the ear can become irregularly shaped or compressed.
The Stahl’s ear deformity, which is sometimes called Elf Ear or Spock Ear, is where the transverse crus doesn’t gently ben upward towards the triangular fossa, but rather it extends outward from the antihelix.
This type of ear deformity is often present in addition to other physical deformities.
Cup ear is a form of prominent ear that also features an incomplete ear opening. In addition, the cartilage of the Helical Rim and the scapha is stiff and inflexible.
With lidding, the upper third of the ear or the Helical Rim is folded over. The cause of lidding is the improper formation and development of either the fossa or the antihelix parts of the ear. The most extreme case of lidding results in lop ear.
Conchal Crus is when there is an abnormality in the folding of the cartilage of the concha symba. This deformity gives the ear the appearance that it is cut in half. This unusual division of the ear can extend all the way to the back wall of the ear. This condition cuts off the conchal hollow. Conchal Crus can lead to prominent ear, a condition where the ear protrudes out from the side of the head.
Those with prominent ear have one or two ears that protrude further than the normal 9mm from the head. This condition is often undiagnosed or under-diagnosed in infants as there are no hearing loss or difficulties associated with it. In some cases, the abnormal protrusion of the ear isn’t noticed by parents until the child is older. Early treatment is important to fully correct this issue.
Those with Cryptotia have an ear where the upper portion of the ear is buried underneath the side of the head. Because of this, the condition is also sometimes called hidden ear or buried ear. With Cryptotia, the antihelical crura and the scapha are under-developed.
Treating Ear Deformities
Children with minor ear deformities that don’t affect their hearing may not need treatment. Those who have more severe ear deformities that affect their ability to hear and which may contribute to other physical or mental health conditions will most likely require medical treatment.
Restoring a child’s hearing ability and correcting the shape of ear are common purposes of ear surgery. The most effective treatment is based on the specific ear deformity, the age of the patient and the severity of the ear deformity. The ear molding procedure, for instance, can be done within the first week of a baby’s life and is effective in treating Stahl’s ears, constricted and protruding ears. Ear reconstruction surgery is often recommended when children are at least 6 years of age. Below are common medical treatment options for correcting children’s ear deformities:
- Ear Splints
- Ear Molding
- Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants
- Infant Ear Correction System
At Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah, we offer newborns with ear deformities a non-surgical, non-invasive ear correction system called EarWell. This treatment can be started within days of a baby’s birth and requires no sedation, medication or anesthesia. It is pain-free and highly effective.
However, for the best chance of full correction, the EarWell treatment must begin when the child is no more than three months old.
The ability to hear and feel comfortable in one’s own skin are important at the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah, we diagnose and treat each patient individually so they can have the best quality of life as possible.
Consult with Dr. Griner
If you suspect that your baby may have an ear deformity, contact the Cleft & Craniofacial Institute of Utah to schedule a consultation to learn more about the various treatment options for your child’s ear deformity.