New Microtia Treatment Options in Arabic Countries
Currently, in many Arabic countries, one of about 8000 newborns will be delivered with a congenital ear defect known as Microtia. This is a deformity affecting the pinna or outer ear making is underdeveloped. A pinna that is totally gone is referred to as anotia and both microtia and anotia are birth defects.
There are many reasons believe to be the cause of Microtia. Some believe that it is caused by the mother taking Accutane prescription medication given to treat severe forms of acne. Others believe that it is due to the type of milk the mother drinks during pregnancy – but it is not genetic as it can occur when no one else on either side of the family has this problem.
Types or grades
There are 4 types or grades of microtia. They include:
- Type 1 which is the mildest as the ear maintains its normal shape but is smaller;
- Type2 which is a partially formed outer ear with very narrow or small ear canals. If the ear canals are completely closed it causes conductive hearing loss;
- Type 3 which is the absence of the external ear leaving a small peanut-shaped structure and an absence of the canal or drum of the ear;
- Type 4 is most severe as all external structures of the ear are missing thus anotia.
This can affect one or both ears. Normally babies have only one affected ear. There is usually some or complete hearing loss in the ear that is affected.
Currently, there is a new form of treatment for this defect that is not known about in Arabic countries. This Microtia treatment involves stem cells that have revolutionized the treatment for this defect. The process uses a 3-D printer with a polymer (plastic) mold obtained by scanning and printing a model of the patient’s normal ear. When both ears are impacted, a model is made from a family member.
This ear-shaped plastic ear is then implanted with stem cells taken from fat cells of the body. As the stem cells differentiate the normal cartilage cells, the polymer or plastic mold disintegrates leaving a full normal ear in its place. This treatment changes all the reconstructive surgeries that were often needed to take care of this problem.