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Ear and atresia reconstruction: adult and paediatric

Published on 07 February 2024

The Ear and Atresia Reconstruction Service provides assessment and review for adults and children who need ear reconstruction and/or implantable hearing devices. The service is located at St John’s Hospital Livingston for adults. The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh covers children.

What is ear and atresia reconstruction?

Ear and atresia reconstruction can be needed as a result of a congenital condition, such as microtia (deformity of the elastic cartilage of the outer ear). Problems are also sometimes acquired, for example through deformity resulting from trauma, infection or cancer.

With microtia the inner ear may be normal. This allows hearing to be salvaged using bone-anchored hearing aids. Ear reconstruction can then be undertaken – either using cartilage from a patient's rib or by deploying a prosthetic (artificial) ear. The latter gives a more acceptable cosmetic outcome.

Ear reconstruction is an extended procedure rather than a single event. It is often split into phases of management (assessment, surgery and rehabilitation support). Each ear reconstruction may need two surgical procedures. Minor revisions of shape, or modification of the shape with growth, may need a third procedure.

Further information about this service is available on the NHS Lothian website.

A leaflet discussing surgery and decision making around ear reconstruction can be found on the Microtia UK website.