Technical Advances in Ear Reconstruction with Autogenous Rib Cartilage Grafts: Personal Experience with 1200 Cases

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Abstract

Through the author's experience with 1200 cases during a 25-year period, this article presents technical improvements in ear reconstruction and proposes and discusses possible directions for further technical advancement. This article presents the rationale for the author's current methods of managing total ear repair. Throughout the article, the author stresses and demonstrates cartilage-sparing techniques that are designed to minimize the amount of cartilage used in a repair to preserve maximum chest wall integrity. This article also presents the latest method of framework fabrication, showing differences in construction between younger and older patients; a new method that constructs a tragus as an integral part of the framework; a method that maintains ear projection with a scalp-banked cartilage wedge; and a method that solves the always frustrating low hairline by presurgical laser treatment. In addition, the concept of creating autogenous frameworks by tissue engineering is pursued and discussed in practical clinical terms. A survey of 1000 microtia patients indicates that surgically constructed ears remain durable, withstand trauma well, and provide consistent emotional relief and psychological benefits through the repair. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 104: 319, 1999.)

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