3D printing to rebuild children's ears

Children born with underdeveloped or missing ears can now have new ears created thanks to pioneering 3D printing technology being used at Edinburgh’s children’s hospital.

ECHC provided £32,000 worth of funding to purchase a state-of-the-art, hand held 3D scanner for the hospital which aids surgeons in developing and sculpting as accurate an ear as possible by capturing a 3D image, then printing a perfect template.

Using cartilage from a patient’s rib cage, a surgeon will then mould a new ear based on the model. Happily, in many cases, plastic surgery can restore both the appearance of the ear and a child’s hearing.

I'm really excited about getting a new ear and it will make me really happy.

- Anya


Anya (pictured above) was born with microtia – a deformity which meant her left ear was undeveloped and her hearing limited. She was the first child to receive the treatment at the hospital – and got her new ear just in time for Christmas!

Plastic surgeon Ken Stewart says the ECHC-funded scanner has transformed his team’s work. He said: “As we’re able to get a more sophisticated carving, we can more accurately replicate the details of the opposite ear. By having that template on the table, it’s like having an artist’s model right in front of you.

“The smiles on the children’s faces are amazing and I am delighted to be able to offer such a life-changing procedure which can drastically improve quality of life in terms of self-confidence and also in enhancing hearing.”

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