Chronic Ear Conditions We Treat at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Children with conditions of the outer ear, middle ear, or eardrum can have:

  • Pain
  • Discharge
  • Appearance concerns
  • Hearing loss

At the Chronic Ear Clinic, we take great care in treating complex and rare ear disorders in children.

Our experts take time to explain the structure of the ear and help you understand your child's condition and treatment options.

Contact The Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology at UPMC Children's

  • Call 412-692-5460 to make an appointment.

Ear Deformities We Treat

Some infants are born with ear deformities. In many cases, they aren't associated with other health conditions.

At UPMC Children's Chronic Ear Clinic, we diagnose and treat mild ear deformities. We can assess how severe your child's ear problem is and suggest treatments, including plastic surgery and skin graft surgery.

If your child has a more severe ear deformity, we'll refer you to UPMC Children's Congenital Ear Clinic.

While minor defects often don't affect hearing, they can cause distress to a child's mental health and self-esteem. In these cases, we can advise you on the proper age for surgery.

We treat the following ear deformities:

  • Cryptotia —the upper ear cartilage is under the skin of the head.
  • Earlobe deformities — the earlobes have an abnormal shape.
  • Ear tags — growths of skin and cartilage form knobs or bumps on the ear.
  • Lop ear — the top rim of the ear folds over or tightly presses against the ear.
  • Prominent ears — the ears stick out more than 3/4 of an inch from the side of the head.
  • Stahl's ear — the ear has an extra fold in the top part and has a pointed shape.
  • Ear injuries — these include cut, misshapen, or swollen ears due to trauma.

Middle Ear and Eardrum Conditions We Treat

At the Ear Clinic, we use advanced, non-invasive surgical techniques to protect and repair the fragile ear structures of infants and kids. We also place tiny ear tubes, made of plastic or metal, to drain excess fluid.

Chronic middle ear disease

When an ear infection becomes chronic, it can cause hearing loss and constant drainage.


Cholesteatoma is a noncancerous skin growth in the middle ear that can cause:

  • A feeling of pressure in the ear.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness on one side of the face (as the growth can damage nerves).

It can be present at birth but often grows from skin cells that become trapped due to ear infections.

Congenital conductive hearing loss

This condition is the result of fluid or structural abnormalities in the outer ear, middle ear, or eardrum.

It's present at birth and differs from more common congenital hearing loss.

In most cases, conductive hearing loss gets better with treatment.

Non-healing ruptured eardrum

This condition occurs when a tear or hole in the eardrum doesn't heal after a few weeks.

Retraction pocket

This occurs when the eardrum gets pushed to the middle ear, creating a pocket.

A retraction pocket can cause:

  • Ear pain or soreness.
  • Fluid to drain from the ear.
  • Short-term hearing loss.