Reconstruction of partially amputated external ear with costal cartilage graft: case report

Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2004 Jun;24(3):150-6.


Many causes are responsible for secondary anomalies of the outer ear, such as: car accidents, sport- or work-related accidents, assaults, bites from animals or humans, benign or malignant tumours, burns and the effects of surgical interventions of the ear (plastic surgery on the ear or attempts at correction of primary malformations of the ear). The anatomical complexity of the ear makes its reconstruction particularly complicated with post-operative results that are often disappointing. The Authors describe their experience in the reconstruction of a partially amputated outer ear following a dog bite. The therapeutic protocol required various surgical stages. Initially, a cutaneous expander was applied at the level of the mastoid in order to ensure a sufficient quantity of local skin. The second stage was to remove cartilage from the ribs, followed by construction of a cartilaginous model of the ear and its insertion into the subcutaneous mastoid region after removal of the cutaneous expander and any residual ear cartilage. The last stage was to separate the neo-formed outer ear from the mastoid skin with the insertion of a cartilage graft to the posterior region of the reconstructed ear. This graft was covered by the occipital fascia rotated at 180 degrees and by a skin graft removed from the pubis. The postoperative result was satisfactory with recuperation of a good aesthetic appearance of the ear. Aim of the present report is to describe the surgical technique employed in the reconstruction of secondary anomalies of the ear and to highlight errors committed during this procedure. These considerations have allowed us to stress some fundamental elements in the reconstruction of the ear. In particular, the watershed was the awareness that we had to create a cartilaginous model that respected, as far as possible, the anatomy of the outer ear with all its ridges, trenches and cavities. This as well as ensuring a sufficient quantity of local skin in order to cover the cartilaginous graft and, therefore, reduce the risk of exposing the cartilage and subsequent infection, to guarantee an optimal end result.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cartilage / transplantation*
  • Ear, External / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Ribs
  • Surgical Flaps