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Tragal Reconstruction - Techniques, Indications, Consideration, and Advancements

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The procedure that helps in the reconstruction of the tragus is called tragal reconstruction. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Oliyath Ali

Published At September 26, 2023
Reviewed AtSeptember 26, 2023

Introduction

The surgical process used to reconstruct the tragus is called tragal reconstruction. Tragus is a small and pointed cartilage present on the external ear. Tragus directs the sound waves to the ear canal and protects the ear from foreign substances or objects. The reconstruction of the tragus is done in cases where the tragus is deformed or damaged due to any congenital defect or trauma or previous surgical procedure or in cases when the tragus is absent. Tragus reconstruction is done for both cosmetic and functional purposes.

Which Are the Different Techniques Used for the Reconstruction of the Tragus?

Some of the common techniques that are used for the reconstruction of the tragus include the following:

  • Tragal Cartilage Graft - In this technique, the tragus is reconstructed from the cartilage taken from another part of the body, like the opposite ear or rib. The harvested cartilage from another part of the body is sculpted and positioned, which helps in creating the natural shape and size of the tragus. The graft is placed and kept in position with the help of sutures or other types of fixation methods.

  • Local Tissue Rearrangement - The tissues present in the nearby region are rearranged or reshaped, which helps in creating the tragus. The adjacent issues like conceal cartilage or antitragus are used to reconstruct the tragus. This method is used when there is sufficient local or adjacent tissue available to recreate the adequate amount of tragus without the graft.

  • Prosthetic Tragus - Silicon or other materials are used to make a prosthetic tragus to recreate the appearance and shape of the tragus without any surgical procedures. It is a custom-made tragus that helps in matching the natural ear of the patient. It is attached using adhesives or other methods.

  • Composite Grafts - Composite grafts are also used to reconstruct the tragus. In this method, a combination of skin, cartilage, or other tissue is used to reconstruct the tragus. This is a complex method. It is usually done when multiple tissues are reconstructed.

  • Microtia Reconstruction - A congenital condition in which the external ear is absent or underdeveloped is called microtia. Cartilage grafts or various tissue expanders are used in the reconstruction to create a natural-looking ear.

What Are the Indications in Which Tragal Reconstruction Is Performed?

The indications of tragal reconstruction include the following:

  • Congenital Deformities - People having congenital deformities like underdeveloped, malformed, or missing tragus, like microtia (underdeveloped external ear). The reconstruction of the tragus helps in restoring the normal appearance, shape, and function of the tragus.

  • Trauma - Ear trauma caused by accident or blunt force injuries can sometimes damage the tragus. In such cases, reconstruction of the tragus is indicated to restore function and appearance.

  • Previous Surgery- Tragal reconstruction is indicated in the case of previous surgery, like removal of the skin lesion present in the ear or ear piercing which is gone wrong.

  • Congenital Abnormalities - Certain congenital abnormalities or genetic symptoms like Goldenhar syndrome or Treacher Collins syndrome can result in the malformation of the ear, including the external ear and the tragus. In such cases, the reconstruction of the tragus is indicated to improve the overall appearance and function of the ear.

  • Cosmetic Purposes - When some individuals are dissatisfied with the appearance of the tragus, it is done for cosmetic purposes to improve the aesthetic of the ears. It will help in improving symmetry between the ears.

What Are the Surgical Approaches and Considerations During the Reconstruction of the Tragus?

The reconstruction of the tragus includes the following steps:

  • Patient Evaluation - A thorough patient evaluation is done before the surgical procedure. The medical history, age, and overall health of the patient are considered.

  • Choice of Technique - The type of technique depends on the condition of the patient and desired outcome. The commonly used technique include cartilage graft, local tissue rearrangement, composite graft, prosthetic tragus, and a combination of these techniques.

  • Aesthetics and Symmetry - Tragal reconstruction is done to look natural and improve symmetry. During the procedure, parameters like position, size, shape, and projection of the tragus should be carefully evaluated and discussed with the patient to get realistic expectations after the surgery.

  • Risks and Complications - Like most surgical procedures, tragus reconstruction is also associated with potential risks and complications like bleeding, infection, reduced wound healing, asymmetry, changes in sensation, scarring, and dissatisfaction with the cosmetic treatment. Before the treatment, the patient should be informed about the risks and complications.

  • Post-operative Care - Postoperative instructions are given after the surgery to manage the wound, pain, and discomfort. Follow-up appointments are necessary for a successful reconstruction of the tragus.

What Are the Advancements in the Tragal Reconstruction?

The emerging technology and technique help in improving the outcome of the reconstruction of the tragus, which helps in increasing the satisfaction of the patient by reducing post-operative complications. Some of the emerging technology and technique in tragal reconstruction include the following:

  • Three-dimensional printing can be used to design a customized tragus from the preoperative imaging of the opposite ear.

  • CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) technology help in designing and planning the tragus reconstruction. It has software to create a virtual tragus that helps in the surgical procedure. These virtual models of the tragus can help in guiding the surgery.

  • The endoscopically assisted technique has a small camera to visualize the surgical site during the reconstruction procedure. This will help get a better visualization of the operating site and help in reducing trauma.

  • Nerve grafting help in restoring the normal sensation of the tragus.

  • A minimally invasive technique like a needle-based and percutaneous approach can be used in tragal reconstruction.

  • Biomaterials like synthetic scaffolds or tissue-engineered cartilage can be used to reconstruct the tragus.

  • Stem cells and regenerative medicine are used as advancements in tragus reconstruction.

  • Augmented reality and virtual reality help in the surgical planning of the reconstruction procedure.

  • Robotic-assisted surgery can help in giving improved precision and control during the reconstructive procedure.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the reconstruction of the tragus is a type of surgical procedure that helps to correct deformities or any injuries to the tragus. The selection of the reconstruction technique depends on the individual patient, the extent of the deformity, and the surgeon's opinion. Always consult a qualified health professional before the surgery. Follow-up appointments are needed to improve the healing process and to reduce complications after the surgical procedure.

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Dr. Oliyath Ali
Dr. Oliyath Ali

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)

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