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New Treatment Reshapes Big Ears

Nonsurgical Method Uses Clamps, Tape to Minimize Ears

WebMD Health News

Dec. 16, 2002 -- For parents concerned about their child's prominent ears, a new method may help minimize the appearance of oversized ears without surgery and prevent Dumbo-like taunting from other children. New research shows the technique, known as the Auri method, produced positive results for 89% of the children under age 6.

The method involves putting a specially designed clamp on the child's ears at night and double adhesive strip behind the ears during the day. Together, the devices squeeze, bend, and stretch the ear tissues into a more aesthetically pleasing shape and minimize their appearance.

Researchers say prominent ears are a common condition that rarely causes significant medical problems, but they can cause psychological problems for many children, especially when they enter school. Surgical correction in young children is not generally recommended, and few studies have looked at the effectiveness of nonsurgical methods designed to treat prominent ears in children without other deformities.

In the study, Danish researchers examined the effects of the Auri method in 44 children between 3 months and 5 1/2 years of age. The children wore the clamps on the affected ears for an average of 4.3 hours per night and the almost invisible adhesive strip behind the ears for about nine hours during the day.

After around five and a half months of treatment, researchers found the devices had achieved a "good" degree of correction in 34% of the children, a "fair" correction in 55% of the participants, and a poor correction in 11% of the cases. The investigators based their assessment on precise measurements and photographs taken before and after the treatment.

However, the study found parents were even more pleased with the procedure than the researchers. Eighty percent of the parents said they felt the method had achieved good results in their children and all of them said they were satisfied with the treatment, even those who received a poor degree of correction.

The study shows the technique appears to produce long-lasting results, and 86% of the treated ears maintained their corrected shape 10 months after treatment. Although the method was effective and easy to use, researchers say it requires long-term motivation of the parents and the children to stick with the treatment plan.

Results of these preliminary tests of the Auri method appear in the December issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

No severe complications were associated with the technique, but slight problems such as temporary skin irritation and squeeze marks were found in 30% of the children.

Study researcher Michael Miravet Sorribes, MD, of the ear, nose and throat department of Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, and colleagues say they next plan to evaluate the Auri method in older children and teenagers with prominent ears.

SOURCE: Archives of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, December 2002.

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