Cleft and Craniofacial Center
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Ear Deformities

Our doctors specialize in treating children who have complex ear deformities. Molding may correct some deformities if done early, while the cartilage of the infant’s ear is still flexible.

In addition to the external deformity, microtia and anotia may cause hearing loss due to the closure or absence of the ear canal and ear drum.

Hearing Assessment and Ear Function

All infants have a hearing test before they are discharged from the hospital where they are born. Sometimes children will fail their first hearing test and may later pass the test when it is repeated a few weeks later. Despite these initial tests, all children born with cleft palate are at risk for hearing loss due to abnormal function of the tube (called the Eustachian tube) that helps drain fluid from behind your child’s eardrum.

Because fluid can collect in this space (the middle ear space), many children with cleft palate will need frequent monitoring of their hearing and middle ear function, even after palate repair.

The most common type of hearing problem associated with cleft palate is usually temporary and treatable. These children will benefit from placement of special tubes into their eardrums (called ventilation tubes or pressure-equalization tubes) in order to prevent fluid from accumulating in the middle ear space and to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

The Cleft team will ensure that your child’s hearing is monitored frequently in the first year of life by our pediatric otolaryngologist. If your child will need ventilation tubes (also called myringotomy tubes) placed, this surgical procedure will be coordinated on the same day as surgery to correct the cleft palate.  This is typically done when your child is about one year of age. 

Postop care instructions for ventilation tube placement (PDF)