November 9, 2017

November 9 is National Microtia Day

Learn about our Multidisciplinary Microtia Clinic

In August 2015, Drs. David Zopf and Jennifer Kim developed the multidisciplinary microtia clinic to provide the highest level of care for patients with ear malformations. Since them, our clinic treats over 100 patients suffering from microtia.

Microtia is a congenital ear malformation that occurs in approximately 1: 6,000-12,000 births where a child is born missing a significant portion of their ear structure. It usually occurs unilaterally, but can occur on both ears. Beyond the cosmetic considerations, patients born with microtia will often suffer from functional hearing loss.

There are four grades of microtia:

  • Grade 1: Less than complete development of the external ear with an identifiable structure and a small external ear canal
  • Grade 2: Partially developed ear with a closed external ear canal
  • Grade 3: Absence of an external ear canal and ear drum with a small, peanut-shaped structure.
  • Grade 4: Absence of the total ear

Patient Care

Before and after surgical intervention on a patient with Grade 3 microtia. 

The goal of our pediatric microtia clinic is to restore both form and function to patients born with microtia.  Our pediatric otolaryngologists are trained and experienced in the treatment of microtia, and partner with colleagues in pediatric audiology to address and treat the hearing loss that often accompanies a microtia diagnosis. From the initial assessment through post-operative follow-up, our team of physicians will draw from their different disciplines to provide your child with an individualized treatment plan.


Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Treatment

A 3D printed magnetic ear splint

Typically surgical intervention to correct microtia is delayed until the patient is at least five; however, through the use of 3D printing we have leveraged and developed techniques to treat microtia while the ear is still malleable.  Mechanisms such as a 3D printed magnetic ear splint allow us to reshape ear cartilage to the shape of the contralateral ear at a very young age. We can perform this procedure at early infancy so ear deformity and surgery can be avoided.


Surgical Treatment

Example of an auricular cartilage framework

 Surgical treatment for auricular reconstruction typically requires four staged surgeries, often requiring the surgeon to harvest the patient’s rib cartilage and carve into the shape of an ear. Due to the technically challenging nature of carving and implanting auricular cartilage frameworks, it is important to seek the expertise of a surgeon with extensive training in this type of procedure.  Our surgeons have received extensive training and experience in the art of auricular reconstruction to achieve optimal results.



Pictured above, Dr. David Zopf  (left) along with research specialist Colleen Flanagan (center) and faculty research colleague Dr. Scott Hollister

In order to further develop translatable solutions to improve patient care and outcomes, faculty from the Departments of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Biomedical Engineering have collaborated to develop patient-specific, 3D printed craniofacial tissue scaffolds for ears. These scaffolds, which are created by auricular computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing, will eliminate the technically demanding process and variability of carving auricular cartilage frameworks, as well as allow for more rapid manufacturing.

The unique design of these scaffolds is credited to biodegradable polymer with many intricately-designed fine pores that are reabsorbed by the body. The scaffolds are created using an image-based hierarchical design method with a 3D printing process. 



Drs. David Zopf and Elizabeth Knecht during an annual trip to Cuzco, Peru


Our providers are passionate about improving the lives of patients at home and abroad.  Global outreach initiatives include an annual mission trip to Cuzco, Peru, where they see approximately 150 patients in one day and perform over 50 reconstructive procedures in the week. In addition to operating on patients, our surgeons also teach novel ear reconstruction techniques to local surgeons to in order to better serve their patients. 


Take the next step:
Schedule an appointment by calling us at 734-936-8051

Related Providers

Jennifer C. Kim, M.D.

Associate Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Facial Plastic Surgery

David A. Zopf, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Pediatric Otolaryngology