Ear Reconstruction

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had to have the bottom half of my ear surgically removed as the result of cancer. Since radiation was tried but was unsuccessful, permanent replacement via a an ear bone attachment is not possible. I am interested in a permanent ear replacement using your technique of creating a mold, growing ear cells from an animal, implanting this into the back of a rat then permanently attaching this ear.

A: Thank you for your inquiry in regards to ear reconstruction. I am not sure where you got the impression of how ear reconstruction is done, but the concept of growing cartilage cells on an animal in the shape of an ear to be used in human ear reconstruction is an experimental study not a viable human surgical procedure as of yet. But even if it were, the key issue in any attempt at ear reconstruction in yourself in that you have had radiation. Such treatments have damaged the surrounding tissues and impaired their blood supply. Any form of reconstruction will require a vascularized soft tissue cover regardless of what is used for the underlying cartilaginous framework reconstruction.

I would be happy to look at current pictures of your ear to determine what type of ear reconstruction may be possible in your case.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana