Can Microtia Be Detected During Pregnancy with an Ultrasound? By Dr. John Reinisch on January 15, 2024

Expectant mother

Microtia is a congenital condition characterized by outer ear malformation. Improper outer ear formation can lead to self-esteem issues and inner ear canal deficiencies, resulting in hearing loss and speech impediment.

Microtia specialist Dr. John Reinisch pioneered the MEDPOR® technique and offers microtia treatment at his Beverly Hill, CA, plastic surgery practice. Microtia treatment reconstructs the outer ear and addresses any hearing deficiencies. Since microtia is a congenital condition, many ask, “Can microtia be detected during pregnancy with ultrasound?” Here, we discuss how ultrasound can assist in early microtia detection and how that can benefit our patients.

When Does Microtia Develop?

Microtia is a congenital condition that starts during the intrauterine phase of life. Typically, microtia develops early in a pregnancy. Most cases of microtia are present within the first few weeks of pregnancy, so they are present by the time patients typically undergo their first prenatal ultrasound.

Can An Ultrasound Detect Microtia?

Ultrasounds are performed periodically throughout pregnancy to check the health of an unborn baby and determine if any abnormalities are present. Fetal ear examination is not a routine aspect of prenatal ultrasound screenings. However, when a fetal ear examination is performed, an ultrasound can detect microtia during pregnancy.

A 2023 study published in Frontiers of Medicine concluded that ultrasound is highly effective in detecting microtia. The study retrospectively examined 81 fetuses diagnosed with microtia after birth. Of the 81 cases diagnosed after birth, only two had a missed diagnosis on a prenatal ultrasound, and a third had a unilateral (affecting one ear) diagnosis on a prenatal ultrasound and was found to be a bilateral (affecting both ears) case of microtia after birth. The findings of this study emphasize the importance of guiding patients to receive targeted screening during a prenatal ultrasound.

Benefits of Early Microtia Detection

When microtia is detected via ultrasound, the condition cannot be treated or prevented before birth. Still, early microtia detection benefits patients by providing time to research the condition, prepare for how microtia may affect their child, consider treatment options, and search for a doctor, such as Dr. Reinisch, who specializes in microtia treatment techniques.

How Early Can Microtia Be Treated?

Because of the potential physical and emotional effects of microtia, many parents are understandably eager to treat the condition for their child. The age at which a child can receive microtia treatment depends on the treatment technique.

Traditional microtia treatment uses donor cartilage (typically collected from the patient’s ribs) to construct an ear framework. Donor tissue cannot be collected until the patient has sufficient cartilage. Patients undergoing this type of microtia treatment must wait until they are eight to 10 years of age.

Dr. Reinisch prefers to use the MEDPOR technique when treating microtia at his Beverly Hills practice. This technique uses porous polyethylene to create the ear framework. The technique streamlines microtia treatment, reduces the number of surgeries needed, and allows patients to undergo treatment as early as the age of three.

Contact Us

If your child is diagnosed with microtia, Dr. John Reinisch can provide an overview of the treatment options available to reconstruct the ear and address hearing loss. To learn more about the techniques offered at his Beverly Hills center, send us a message and request an appointment at your earliest convenience.

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Dr. John Reinisch, MD

Reinisch Plastic Surgery

  • Exceptionally well-qualified
  • Graduate of Harvard Medical School
  • Board-certification in plastic surgery 
  • Created the MEDPOR® technique in 1991
  • Has successfully treated over 20,000 children 

Patients come from across the country and around the world to benefit from his expert care. To schedule your consultation, contact our office online or call us at (833) 896-3277

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