The Doctors share an innovative way one army doctor reconstructed another soldier's ear by growing it in her arm! The soldier was in a terrible car accident that tore her left ear completely off. Plastic surgeon expert Dr. Lt. Col. Owen N. Johnston III used this creative solution to repair her ear.
Lt. Col. Dr. Johnston joins on Skype and explains how he did this three-stage operation. He says it took in total 24 hours of surgery! He first removed cartilage from the patient's ribs. Then, he shaped this cartilage, using her other ear as a template. Then, he implanted it into the woman's forearm. Throughout this, he had to pay special care to ensure it did not injure any other parts of her body along the way.
After letting the ear sit for about a year, he performed a second surgery to transfer it to the head. This involved elevating the skin/cartilage framework and the artery and vein that were feeding it and then finding a new blood vessel in her neck to then sow everything together under a microscope.
In five years, the doctor believes she will look like she has a normal ear. He plans to do a couple more revisions and debulking to make it look good and match the other side. She's also going to be able to hear completely normally! The way the woman's ear came off and the way the scar tissue was forming, she was starting to lose some hearing on the left side, but thankfully, her hearing should now return.
"This really is the ultimate combination of surgery and art at it's best!" exclaims plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon.
"This is a natural evolution of this technique as we push the boundaries of what is possible with microsurgery. Our soldiers are surviving at the highest rate in human history and so many people are going home alive, but now, with disfiguring injuries," says Lt. Col. Dr. Johnson.