Technical innovations in ear reconstruction using a skin expander with autogenous cartilage grafts

Yu Dashan, Jiang Haiyue, Yang Qinghua, Pan Bo, Lin Lin, Wang Tailing, Wang Yanmei, Qin Xiao, Zhuang Hongxing
Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery: JPRAS 2008, 61: S59-69
Pioneers such as Tanzer and Brent have established the foundations of microtia reconstruction using an autogenous costal cartilage framework. The framework and its skin coverage are the two limiting factors in ear reconstruction. At the present time autogenous rib cartilage and mastoid skin are still first choice materials for most surgeons. They have the combined advantages of well-matched texture and colour. To reconstruct a symmetrical, accurate, prominent auricle and minimise as much as possible the chest wall deformity caused by rib cartilage harvesting, we set out to improve our techniques for cartilaginous framework definition and to use the remnant ear to enhance the projection of the reconstructed ear. Since 2000, 342 cases (366 ears) were treated using our current techniques. Data pertaining to complications were recorded. Final results were assessed a minimum of 1 year postoperatively. The follow-up period ranged from 1 to 6 years. Most of the patients with microtia were satisfied with the results of their ear reconstruction. In conclusion, our techniques help to reduce the quantity of rib cartilage needed to fabricate ear framework and minimise chest wall deformity. The frameworks are accurate, prominent and stable. Reconstructed ears are similar in colour and appearance to the normal side. Our innovations are practical and reliable for microtia reconstruction using skin expanders in combination with a sculpted autogenous rib cartilage framework.


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