Tissue Engineering Strategies for Auricular Reconstruction

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Simulating natural characteristics and aesthetics in reconstructed ears has provided a complex 3-dimensional puzzle for those treating patients with microtia. Costochondral grafts remain the gold standard for autologous reconstruction. However, other options such as Medpor and prosthetics are indicated depending on patient circumstances and personal choice. Research into tissue engineering offers an alternative method to a traditional surgical approach that may reduce donor-site morbidity. However, tissue engineering for microtia reconstruction brings new challenges such as cell sourcing, promotion of chondrogenesis, scaffold vascularization, and prevention of scaffold contraction. Advancements in 3D printing, nanofiber utilization, stem cell technologies, and decellularization techniques have played significant roles in overcoming these challenges. These recent advancements and reports of a successful clinical-scale study in an immunocompetent animal suggest a promising outlook for future clinical application of tissue engineering for auricular reconstruction.

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