Ear Canal Stenosis
Sometimes a child can be born without an external ear canal. This is called aural atresia. In other cases, the child has a narrowed ear canal, where the eardrum can still be viewed but the canal is narrower than normal. This condition is called ear canal stenosis. These conditions can affect one or both ears.
Patients with atresia and no ear canal have hearing loss. The same is often true of stenosis, although at times hearing can be normal depending on the severity of the stenosis. In both conditions, the inner ears and auditory nerves are generally normal. In the cases of hearing loss, surgery to either create or widen the ear canal is necessary. This surgery is referred to as canalplasty or atresiaplasty.
Danger of Cholesteatoma Formation
Children with ear canal stenosis are at heightened risk for another problem — cholesteatoma, a non-cancerous skin cyst that develops in the middle ear or ear canal. As the cholesteatoma grows larger, it may destroy numerous important structures in the ear, to include the delicate bones of the middle ear. This may lead to hearing loss, recurring ear infections, and a variety of other problems. Surgery is required to cure cholesteatoma. The first goal of the surgery is to remove the cholesteatoma and create a dry ear free from infection. Sometimes a second surgery is then needed to attempt reconstruction of inner ear bones damaged by the cholesteatoma.
Congenital Stenosis May be Associated with Other Syndromes
When a child is born with stenosis, the condition can be associated with several other syndromes: Treacher Collings, Golderhar, Klippel-Feli, Branchio-Oto-Renal, and Hemifacial Microsomia. For more information about the possibility of these, talk with us at Coastal ENT.
Surgical Options for Stenosis and Atresia
The goal of surgery is to create an ear canal (atresia) or widen the ear canal (stenosis). With atresia, the age recommended for surgery is usually age five or six, although it can be performed prior to that. The decision is contingent on surgery to repair the external ear, if needed. The ear will require diligent examinations over time to ensure that the newly created ear canal doesn’t narrow, creating stenosis from scar tissue.
Ear canal atresia and stenosis are serious concerns not only for the present, but for the long term hearing health of the patient. At Coastal ENT, we will diagnose the severity of the condition and use our state-of-the-art surgical techniques, if needed, to create a brighter future.