Hear, hear

Doctors in Israel reconstruct severed ear in unique surgery

Plastic surgeons at Shaare Zedek Medical Center able to restore a patient’s upper ear, lost in a workplace accident

A patient who received reconstructive surgery of the ear at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Courtesy)
A patient who received reconstructive surgery of the ear at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Courtesy)

In a show of Israeli medical innovation, doctors at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem utilized an experimental technique to replace the ear of a patient who saw it severed in a workplace accident.

A 55-year-old carpentry shop employee recently came to the Shaare Zedek emergency room after a wood pallet fell on him, slicing off the upper half of his ear, the hospital said Sunday.

“At first I did not feel that my ear was missing, I thought it just was a bleeding cut. I took a rag and pressed down to stop the bleeding. It was only when I arrived at the emergency room that the extent of the trauma became clear. The ear was cut in half,” the man said, according to a statement from the hospital.

“I asked the carpentry shop owner to quickly bring the ear to the medical center. It took a while, but in the end, the missing half was found.”

Emergency physicians at the hospital initially attempted to stitch the piece of the ear back on using conventional methods, but found that due to lack of blood supply it could not be saved.

Switching course, doctors in the plastic surgery department at the hospital decided to perform reconstructive surgery, utilizing advanced technology in an attempt to rebuild the detached body part.

Doctors at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem performing reconstructive ear surgery. (Courtesy)

Dr. Yoav Gronovich, director of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Shaare Zedek, who performed the surgery together with the department’s team of doctors, said that it was treated as a severe trauma case.

“The chances of returning the detached piece to its place were extremely low,” Gronovich said.  There were many complications in attempting to replace the missing part of the ear, he added, ranging from the functional to the aesthetic.

Eventually, a cartilage replacement was molded out of special material and adapted to match the size of the healthy ear, using tissue transferred from the patient’s scalp and skin.

“After the absorption of the detached piece was unsuccessful, we decided to perform a complex reconstruction using an alloplastic component that serves as a basis for reconstruction and cartilage replacement. The main advantage of this material is that it can be fitted perfectly with the opposite ear,” Gronovich said.

The operation was successful, and the doctor said the patient will likely regain full functionality of the ear.

“The surgery allowed the employee a full recovery and a quick return to the routine of his life despite the severe injury, while obtaining a very good aesthetic result,” he said.

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