A review of a single physician's experience in managing over 831 infant ear deformities (488 patients) is presented.
The authors' methods of molding have advanced from the use of various tapes, glues, and stents, to a comprehensive yet simple system that shapes the antihelix, the triangular fossa, the helical rim, and the overly prominent conchal-mastoid angle (EarWell Infant Ear Correction System).
The types of deformities managed, and their relative occurrence, are as follows: (1) prominent/cup ear, 373 ears (45 percent); (2) lidding/lop ear, 224 ears (27 percent); (3) mixed ear deformities, 83 ears (10 percent) (all had associated conchal crus); (4) Stahl's ear, 66 ears (8 percent); (5) helical rim abnormalities, 58 ears (7 percent); (6) conchal crus, 25 ears (3 percent); and (7) cryptotia, two ears (0.2 percent). Bilateral deformities were present in 340 patients (70 percent), with unilateral deformities in 148 patients (30 percent). Fifty-eight infant ears (34 patients) were treated using the final version of the EarWell Infant Ear Correction System with a success rate exceeding 90 percent (good to excellent results). The system was found to be most successful when begun in the first week of the infant's life. When molding was initiated after 3 weeks from birth, only approximately half of the infants had a good response.
Congenital ear deformities are common and only approximately 30 percent self-correct. These deformities can be corrected by initiating appropriate molding in the first week of life. Neonatal molding reduces the need for surgical correction with results that often exceed what can be achieved with the surgical alternative.