Atresia is a congenital condition, also know as a birth defect, where a body cavity or a passage is deficient or abnormally closed. It affects a variety of organs of the digestive o cardiovascular systems but fortunately, it is a treatable condition which usually requires surgery. On the contrary, if it is left untreated, it can be fatal. Doctors deal with many forms of this condition, such as duodenal atresia, tricuspid or pulmonary atresia and aural atresia, which is quite common. |
Aural atresia refers to the absence of an external ear canal. In fact it encompasses a series of ear deformities present at birth which involve a certain degree of failure of the development of the external auditory channel. These deformities affect mostly the tympanic membrane, osscicles and middle ear space to varying degrees. Overall, the inner ear development is affected and the most common challenge for an otologist is to restore the sound pathway through the atretic external auditory channel and malformed middle ear to the normal cochlea. It usually affects just one ear, but it can also occur to both ears.
When it comes to the outer ear, microtia is a congenital and unilateral deformity, but in some cases it can also be bilateral, affecting both ears. The ear/ears are very small in appearance which ca make a person feel low self esteem and many time this congenital condition makes it difficult for some people to wear classes or listen to audio through headphones. It usually affects rather boys than girls, the right side rather than the left and it is highly prevalent. Aural atresia is commonly accompanied by microtia and this represent a surgical reconstructive challenge.
The evaluation and management of patients with aural atresia and microtia involves three main procedures which are fairly advanced. First of all, it requires detailed anatomic studies of the temporal bone in order to gain deeper knowledge about the sequence of events in the development of the different regions of the ear. This stage reveals why some regions of the ear are more developed than others in patients and leads to more accurate appreciation of these anatomical variations. Second of all, high resolution computed tomography (CT) scanning must be performed in order to understand the middle and inner ear anatomy and to predict good and adequate surgical procedures. Third, specific surgical procedures must be performed, for instance hearing restoration and facial plastic surgery.
Aural atresia and microtia require a strong collaboration between the otologist and facial plastic surgeon in order to establish the optimal time and the optimal procedures for repairing this condition. Unfortunately, not all the patients who manifest this disease are candidates for surgical correction. They must have a favorable anatomy in order to enjoy the desired surgery result which is based based on restoration of useful hearing, long-term stability of hearing, and maintenance of the patent, skin-lined ear canal. Doctors agree that when these goals are achieved, few accomplishments are as gratifying as successfully treating a patient with atresia.
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