Pediatric ear surgery may be recommended for a diverse range of conditions. Common examples include surgery to repair various components of the outer or middle ear and procedures to address problems with the ear drum. Certain hearing devices have internal components that need to be implanted requiring a surgical procedure. Additionally, specialists performing pediatric ear surgeries may be involved with other surgeries involving the face and skull. Multiple professionals may be involved with providing care to a child who needs ear surgery. A team might include otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons, audiologists, child anesthesiologists, and radiologists.
Repair of the Outer Ear and Ear Canal
Some children are born with visible differences to the external ear structures. Microtia is a term which describes cases in which the outer portion of the ear, known as the pinna, is atypically shaped. Aural atresia refers to cases in which the ear canal is narrow or absent. Microtia and atresia can occur together in the same child. Problems with the ear canal could affect hearing or contribute to other problems such as ear infections or growth of cysts called cholesteatomas. In some cases, aural atresia repair is recommended though a procedure referred to as atresiaplasty. For children who will have both microtia repair and atresiaplasty, the timing of one surgery may affect planning for the other surgery.
Surgeries Involving the Ear Drum
The tympanic membrane is sometimes referred to as the ear drum. Children may be referred for surgery to alleviate problems with the tympanic membrane. Tympanoplasty is a surgery to repair a perforation of the ear drum. Placement of ear tubes through the eardrum is another example of a common pediatric procedure involving the tympanic membrane. Tympanoplasty may be combined with mastoidectomy for cases in which a child needs an infection to be removed.
Repair of Structures Inside the Ear
Sometimes children need ear surgery to address problems inside the ear. Stapedectomy and ossicular reconstruction surgery are common procedures used to address damage to the three ossicular bones inside the ear. Another example is surgery for cholesteatoma which may be performed to remove skin cysts or other growths inside the ear which may cause problems with hearing.
Implantable Hearing Devices
For some children, the hearing device of choice contains a component which must be placed surgically. Children who use bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA), and children who use cochlear implant technology are examples of patients who have ear surgery related to placing implant devices to assist with hearing.
Facial Nerve and Skull Base Surgeries
In addition to pediatric ear surgeries, specialists may also be involved with procedures to address other problems, such as facial paralysis or problems requiring skull base surgery.
Pediatric ear surgery may be recommended for a variety of conditions or reasons. Some children are referred for multiple ear procedures. Talk with the child’s physician to understand the specifics of various procedures and how timing of one procedure may affect the other.