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Microtia and anotia are both birth defects of the ear.


What They Are

Microtia is a condition in which the auricle (the outer, visible part of the ear) is underdeveloped or malformed. Appearance can vary from an undersized, but otherwise normal ear, to an ear with severe structural abnormalities. The external auditory meatus (the inner ear canal) may also be affected, resulting in either an unusually narrow or completely absent canal. Anotia is a condition in which the auricle and external auditory meatus are both completely absent.

Both conditions are usually associated with a partial, but not complete, reduction in hearing. In more than 80 percent of microtia and anotia cases, the condition is unilateral (only one ear is affected). The right ear is more commonly affected than the left. Defects of the inner ear are occasionally associated with microtia and anotia; they are present in approximately 12-50% of cases. An estimated 35% of people with microtia and anotia also suffer from co-existing birth defects, with facial clefts and cardiac defects being the most common.


  • Microtia: Underdeveloped (small in size or malformed) external ear and ear canal
  • Anotia: Absence of external ear and ear canal
  • Both conditions: Decreased hearing ability


Clomid: A major study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uncovered a connection between maternal use of the fertility drug Clomid and mircrotia/anotia. The scientific study, which analyzed tens of thousands of birth records, found that maternal use of the drug Clomid during the 2 months prior to conception or the first month of pregnancy was associated with a doubled risk of delivering a baby with microtia or anotia.


Several different treatment options may be available to children with microtia or anotia. Parents who wish to avoid having surgery preformed on their children may opt for use of prosthetic ears, attached to the patient’s head by either glue or titanium pins. Prosthetic ears may also be surgically attached to the head, and are sometimes covered by the patient’s own skin tissue. The most common surgery for patients suffering from microtia or anotia involves removing cartilage from the patient’s rib to construct an ear that is covered by the patient’s skin tissue. This type of treatment may require four to five stages of reconstructive surgery over the period of one to two years.

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