Atresie: Diagnose, Ursachen & Behandlung

Atresia: diagnosis, causes & treatment

Atresia is the closure of a body opening or hollow organ, which can be either congenital or acquired. In relation to the ear, atresia is the generic term for malformations of the auditory canal and middle ear.

Atresia of the ear

Atresia of the ear describes the absence or closure of the ear canal, which can be congenital or detected shortly after birth. Atresia varies in severity and also differs in shape. The extent of the malformations ranges from barely detectable abnormalities to a narrowing of the ear canal to a complete bony closure of the ear canal.

In some cases, atresia occurs together with microtia, in which those affected have an abnormally small ear, which in turn can lead to underdevelopment of the external auditory canal. With atresia of the ear, hearing is almost always impaired, as the malformations prevent sound from being transmitted to the inner ear. Medical care is therefore necessary. The extent to which the eardrum and middle ear are affected is also variable. There is often a reduction in the size of the eardrum and a change in the shape and arrangement of the ossicles, which renders the latter non-functional.

Atresia diagnosis

In order to determine the severity and type of atresia, imaging procedures can be used. In addition, audiological examinations provide information about the existence of hearing loss. A diagnosis should be made as early as possible in order to initiate therapeutic measures as soon as possible and ensure speech development in children.

Causes of atresia

The exact cause of atresia is not fully known, but the occurrence of atresia is favored by various factors. These include:

  • Medication during pregnancy
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Viruses or infections
  • Nutrient deficiency during pregnancy

Atresia treatment

There are various options for treating atresia. In children, the ear canal can be opened surgically and the eardrum can be reconstructed to restore sound conduction to the inner ear. Alternatively, bone conduction hearing aids or bone conduction implants can be used, which utilize the natural sound conduction function of human bones. Appropriate treatment, especially for bilateral atresia, is essential for children's speech development.