What is aural atresia repair?

Aural Atresia Repair
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Aural atresia repair in children: Overview

Aural atresia is the lack of an ear canal. It may occur in one or both ears. In aural atresia repair, the doctor rebuilds the canal and middle ear. This surgery is done when a child is at least 5 years old.

The doctor makes a new ear canal and fixes problems in the middle ear. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.

Children often go home several hours after surgery. They may have ear pain for a few days after surgery. Your child will probably be able to go back to school or day care within a week.

The surgery should improve your child's hearing. But your child may still need a hearing aid.

When a child has aural atresia, the outside of the ear may not look normal. The doctor may want to repair it as well. This is done in a separate surgery, usually before the canal and middle ear are fixed.

How can you care for your child after aural atresia repair?


  • Have your child stay in bed for the first few days. When your child is ready, your child can begin playing again. Encourage quiet indoor play for the first 3 to 5 days.
  • Your child will probably be able to go back to school or day care within a week.
  • For at least 2 weeks, or as long as your doctor recommends, do not let your child play hard. Take care that your child does not do anything that would turn them upside down, such as playing on monkey bars or doing somersaults. Also keep your child from sports, bike riding, jumping, or running until your doctor says it is okay.
  • For about 7 days, keep your child away from crowds or people that you know have a cold or the flu. This can help keep your child from getting an infection.
  • Try to have your child avoid coughing, nose blowing, or throat clearing. Wipe their nose gently if needed. Tell your child to open their mouth when sneezing and to make a sound to prevent pressure buildup.
  • Keep the ear covered during baths to keep water from getting in the ear for as long as your doctor recommends.


  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids for the first 24 hours to avoid becoming dehydrated. Use clear fluids, such as water, apple juice, and flavored ice pops.
  • You may notice a change in your child's bowel habits right after surgery. This is common. If your child has not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, call your doctor.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart any medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, have your child take it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think the pain medicine is making your child sick to the stomach:
    • Give the medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, be sure your child takes them as directed. Your child should not stop taking them just because they feel better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If your child gets medicine for dizziness, be sure it's taken as directed.

How do you prepare for your child's aural atresia repair surgery?

Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Talk to your child about the surgery. Tell your child that the surgery should help their hearing. Hospitals know how to take care of children. The staff will do all they can to make it easier for your child.
  • Ask if a special tour of the surgery area and hospital is available. This may make your child feel less nervous about what happens.
  • Plan for your child's recovery time. Your child may need more of your time right after the surgery, both for care and for comfort.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell the doctors ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies your child takes. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines your child should take or stop before surgery.

The day before surgery

  • A nurse may call you (or you may need to call the hospital). This is to confirm the time and date of your child's surgery and answer any questions.
  • Remember to follow your doctor's instructions about your child taking or stopping medicines before surgery. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

After your child's aural atresia repair: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after taking pain medicines.
  • Your child bleeds through the bandage.
  • Your child has new or worse vomiting.
  • Your child cannot keep down fluids.

Watch closely for any changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child has drainage from the ear.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

After your child's aural atresia repair: Overview

Aural atresia is the lack of an ear canal. In the surgery, the doctor made a new ear canal and fixed problems in your child's middle ear.

Your child may have ear pain for a few days after surgery. There may be good days and bad days. Older children may have less pain than younger children. Your child may feel dizzy for several hours after surgery. This is common.

Sometimes, surgery affects nerves in the face. Your child's doctor may treat this with medicines called corticosteroids. In some cases, a doctor may do surgery to fix the nerve.

Your child will feel tired for several days and then will slowly become more active. It should be okay for your child to go back to school or day care within a week. Your child's hearing may improve after the surgery. But your child may still need a hearing aid if they were already using one.

What happens on the day of your child's aural atresia repair surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when your child should stop eating and drinking. If you don't, the surgery may be canceled. If the doctor told you to have your child take any medicines on the day of surgery, have your child take them with only a sip of water.
  • Have your child take a bath or shower before you come in. Do not apply lotion or deodorant.
  • Your child may brush their teeth. But tell your child not to swallow any toothpaste or water.
  • Do not let your child wear contact lenses. Bring your child's glasses or contact lens case.
  • Be sure your child has something that's a reminder of home. A special stuffed animal, toy, or blanket may be comforting. For an older child, it might be a book or music.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany your child.
  • Your child will be kept comfortable and safe by the anesthesia provider. Your child will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take several hours. It depends on how hard the problem is to fix.
  • After surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery room. As your child wakes up, the recovery room staff will monitor your child's condition. The doctor will talk to you about the surgery.
  • You will probably be able to take your child home several hours after the surgery.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.