Medically reviewed by Dr. Youssef Tahiri
Underdeveloped ear canals can impact your child’s hearing, speech, language development, and learning abilities. Fortunately, Dr. Youssef Tahiri along with his partner in Palo Alto, Dr. Joseph Roberson, offers comprehensive aural atresia repair at his Beverly Hills, CA, practice, which draws patients from around the world. In collaboration with Dr. Roberson, he can actually rebuild the inner ear, restoring near-complete hearing. The International Institute for Microtia Repair is the only practice that combines aural atresia repair and microtia treatment into a single outpatient surgery. In this way, Dr. Tahiri can minimize discomfort, recovery time, and expense. At the same time, if your child does not qualify for ear canal reconstruction, he can recommend an alternative treatment to improve your child’s hearing.
Aural atresia is a congenital condition that inhibits inner ear development. In some cases, the inner ear is missing entirely. As a result, sound waves are not able to travel through the ear to vibrate the eardrum, hearing bones, and inner ear fluid. Thus, the auditory nerve cannot transmit signals to the brain, where these signals would be registered as sounds.
The International Institute for Microtia Repair is the only practice that combines aural atresia repair and microtia treatment into a single outpatient surgery. If your child suffers from aural atresia, he or she may be a candidate for ear canal reconstruction. Dr. Tahiri will take a CT scan of the inner ear to make sure that he or she has a healthy cochlea, which is necessary for successful surgery. The majority of patients meet this requirement. These images will also reveal whether the inner ear bones have fused together, another condition that will limit candidacy for surgical repair. Children must be at least two-and-a-half years old to receive a CT scan. Dr. Tahiri will consult with Dr. Robertson, as well as an audiologist and other specialists to determine your child’s eligibility for treatment.
When children are very young, they are going through a critical developmental stage. As they hear and process new sounds, it stimulates their brains and strengthens neurological function. You can compare this process to learning a new language or learning to play the piano. Children adopt these skills much more easily than adults. Therefore, it is important to treat aural atresia as early as possible. However, in most cases, we will not perform surgery until your little one is at least three years old.
A trusted otologist (Dr. Roberson) will perform ear canal reconstruction, also known as canalplasty. Dr. Tahiri will perform the cosmetic aspects of the procedure, typically using a polyethylene MEDPOR® or OMNIPORE® implant to create an outer ear framework.
Your treatment team will carefully plan the procedure during an initial consultation. The surgery itself will take place under general anesthesia. To ensure your child’s complete safety, we work with experienced pediatric anesthesiologists. Your child’s surgeon will first create an opening where the ear canal would normally be located. He or she will line this opening with a skin graft and, if necessary, reposition the inner ear bones to ensure better hearing. In some cases, the doctor may need to create a new eardrum as well, using an additional skin graft. Once this process is complete, Dr. Tahiri will reconstruct the outer ear, typically using the MEDPOR® or OMNIPORE® technique.
These combined procedures can restore hearing as well as aesthetics.
Combined Atresia Microtia (CAM) surgery is a rather extensive process. Though it is an outpatient surgery, we will still need to monitor your child’s progress and healing. In most cases, your little one will have the first follow-up one to two days after surgery. The second appointment will usually take place two weeks later. We know that many patients come from long distances to receive our care. We also partner with the local Ronald McDonald House to provide long-term housing.
If your child does not qualify for ear canal reconstruction, we can recommend an alternative treatment. These options will not restore hearing as successfully. Nonetheless, they can improve auditory processing and language development: