The Role of Auricular Prostheses (Epitheses) in Ear Reconstruction
14 December 2015 (online)
The artwork of making the epithesis by the dedicated anaplastologist is the prerequisite of acceptance by the patient and the key for success of this approach. However, computer science is helping with virtual planning and rapid prototyping, and it is likely to revolutionize this process in the near future. One of the advantages of the auricular prostheses is that it can be manufactured as a mirrored replica of the opposite side (if normal or near normal). Furthermore, the results are predictable, and may be shown to the patient before surgery. The developments of various implant systems allow secure retention even in unfavorable anatomic situations as in the ideally pneumatized mastoid process. The advantage of the plate systems is that they spread the loading forces to multiple smaller bone screws, rendering it thereby resistant to torque with abutment insertion or magnet change. Auricular prostheses fulfill three roles: (1) temporary measure, (2) rescue procedure in failed auricular (re)construction, and (3) definitive treatment option. Conventional retention by medical adhesives, sometimes helped by making use of the remnant, keeps its place in the use as a temporary measure or if the patient declines surgery. Today, implant-retained auricular prostheses made of silicone are state of the art for prosthetic rehabilitation of patients with auricular defects.