Microtia: the Opposite of Mickey Mouse Ears

MicrotiaAlthough it is a rare condition, microtia is something that can severely hinder the life of the child or adult who has it. Essentially, it is a condition caused by both genetics and the environment that causes the outside of the ear to develop improperly. This means that it will often appear small, shriveled and closed off.

Microtia Vocabulary
If you want to truly understand microtia, you need to know the technical terms for many different parts of the ear. Most important is the pinna or auricle. This is the technical term for the entire external ear. There are many different parts of the pinna, including:

  • Helix. This is the outside edge of the ear that then folds over onto itself.
  • Triangular fossa. This is the indentation at the top of the pinna that is in between the two prongs of the antihelix.
  • Scapha. This is the depression that is between the helix and the anithelix. It is like the triangular fossa, just longer and closer to the edge.
  • Antihelix. This is the “Y” shaped part of the ear that is opposing the helix.
  • Lobule. This is the ear lobe.

Multiple Microtiae
There are many different levels of microtia. The most common is where the pinna does not exist at all but is instead a small roll of skin and cartilage. This is considered a Grade 3, or fairly serious. In lesser cases, the pinna is just slightly smaller and less developed, but most of the other features such as the helix, triangular fossa, scapha, and antihelix are visible, just not very well defined. In some cases, the pinna may be completely gone, which is called anotia.

No More Microtia
Treating microtia can be very difficult and time consuming. For example, while a Grade 1 pinna might not need much treatment, a Grade 3 or anotia-level ear will need much more work. This reconstruction is more initial construction and can take multiple surgeries over the space of a year or longer. This is so complicated because the doctor must literally create the ear almost from scratch.