A Scottish hospital is using 3D scanning technology to create new ears for children. The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh is using a scanner and printer in a process which creates a perfect template.This is then used as a model by a plastic surgeon as a replacement ear is carved out of the child's rib cartilage. In many cases, the procedure can help restore hearing. When Anya Storie was born nine years ago, it quickly became obvious there was something wrong. As she puts it herself, she has an "odd ear". Her left one is perfectly fine but her right ear has not developed. She says some people tease her about it but the overriding problem is that it affects her hearing. With only a little prompting from her mum Aurea, Anya can even tell you the correct medical term: Microtia. That's when the pinnea - the external part of the ear - is underdeveloped. Anya is not alone: some children are born with deformed or missing ears, others damage them in accidents. Happily in many cases plastic surgery can restore both their appearance and hearing.That is why Anya is attending the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh where plastic surgeon Dr Ken Stewart is an expert at rebuilding or creating young ears. In Anya's case, that means three operations: one to fit the structure of a new ear, carved from her rib cartilage, beneath the skin on the side of her head. After the skin has conformed to that, a second op will move the replacement ear into position. Only after that can the third procedure begin: to open the ear canal which has been closed since Anya was born. New technology is helping create Anya's replacement right ear.
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