Methods: Plaster ear models (n = 11; male:female = 2:1) of lobular-type microtia patients admitted to the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands were scanned using a micro-computed tomographic scanner or a cone-beam computed tomographic scanner. The resulting images were converted into mesh models from which the surface area could be calculated.
Results: The mean total skin area of an adult-size healthy ear was 47.3 cm2, with 49.0 cm2 in men and 44.3 cm2 in women. Microtia ears averaged 14.5 cm2, with 15.6 cm2 in men and 12.6 cm2 in women. The amount of skin deficiency was 25.4 cm2, with 26.7 cm2 in men and 23.1 cm2 in women.
Conclusions: This study proposes a novel method to provide quantitative data on the skin surface area of the healthy adult auricle and the amount of skin deficiency in microtia patients. We demonstrate that the microtia ear has less than 50% of skin available compared with healthy ears. Limited skin availability in microtia patients can lead to healing problems after auricular reconstruction and poses a significant challenge in the development of tissue-engineered cartilage implants. The results of this study could be used to evaluate outcomes and investigate new techniques with regard to tissue-engineered auricular constructs.