What to Expect During Your Child's Congenital Ear Center (CEC) Visit

The CEC at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh cares for children who are born with ear abnormalities that affect hearing. We address their speech, hearing, and ear reconstruction needs.

We also treat older children who have minor ear differences. These ear conditions don't affect hearing, but you may wish to pursue plastic surgery to help with self-esteem.

Contact the Congenital Ear Center at UPMC Children's

To make your child's appointment, call the CEC at 412-692-5460.

Before Your Child's Visit to the CEC

If your child's doctor sent a referral, we'll contact you to set up an appointment when we receive it. You can also call us at 412-692-5460 to book your child's visit.

Please bring any of your child's medical records that you have. Also, be sure to bring your insurance card to the appointment.

We may contact you before your visit to make sure your health plan will cover your child's care.

We ask that you plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment. This will give you ample time to park and find our center.

During Your Child's Visit for Congenital Ear Care

Most first visits start with seeing one of our nurse practitioners or physician assistants. They will ask you about your child's health history.

Next, you'll meet with an ear, nose, and throat doctor who focuses on congenital ear abnormalities.

The doctor will:

  • Do a physical exam.
  • Use an otoscope to look at your child's ear canal if present.
  • Assess your child's condition.

If your child has microtia, the doctor will explain the future outlook and treatments, and answer any questions you have.

If we think your child could have a condition that affects more than the ear, the doctor may order more tests. These may include genetic tests, kidney scans, and heart tests.

Next, your child will meet with an audiologist who will do a hearing test. We'll either do this at your child's first visit or book the hearing assessment for a later date.

The audiologist will use a range of safe techniques targeted to your child's developmental stage.

For children who have an ear abnormality that does not affect hearing, the doctor will discuss surgical options. You'll learn what the surgery entails, and what the ear will look like after.

This will help you and your child decide if and when to pursue the surgery.

After Your Child's Visit to the CEC

If your child's test results weren't ready at your first visit, the doctor will call you or make a follow-up appointment.

Most kids we see who have severe ear abnormalities (microtia and aural atresia) will wear a bone conduction hearing aid. It's attached to a headband that children older than 6 months can wear.

The care team at the CEC will meet with you at least once a year to reassess your child's hearing and speech. During these appointments, your audiologist will adjust your child's hearing aid, if needed.

We may also suggest weekly speech therapy. Our speech therapists have special training in working with kids that suffer hearing loss.

When your child is older, we will order imaging and other tests. These tests help the doctor decide if surgery could help your child's hearing.

Most children's bone structures are mature enough for ear surgery around age 7.

For older children with more minor ear differences, we will book surgery when you decide it's the right time. For these surgeries, most kids go home the same day.

We'll contact you after surgery to make sure your child is healing and that you're both happy with the result.