The term microtia indicates a small, abnormally shaped or absent external ear. It can be unilateral (occur on one side only) or bilateral (occur on both sides). Microtia almost always accompanies congenital aural atresia; or it can occur without any other significant abnormality.

Typically, there is some sort of hearing loss associated with this birth defect. When a baby with microtia is born, a audiology may be conducted to ensure that language formation is not undermined. If the hearing loss is significant enough, an examination is conducted to see what the nature of the hearing loss is, and if providing a hearing aid is appropriate.

Cosmetic reconstruction of the outer ears is possible through several means. Rubber or latex ears can be daily, temporarily "glued on" for a quick and relatively inexpensive fix. Some surgeons have developed novel surgical procedures to rebuild the outer ear using tissues from the body, and skin grafts for reconstructive purposes. For example, Dr. Burt Brent, world famous ear surgeon, used cartilage taken from my ribs and skin grafts taken from the sides of my buttocks to reconstruct my outer ears in a series of ten operations. More recently, scientists have developed spongy polymer templates that dissolve in a biological environment, which can be "seeded" with chondrocytes or cartilage cells. These cells grow, and eventually replace the polymer templates, and can develop into strikingly realistic artificial ears.

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