Over two million tympanostomy tubes are inserted annually in the United States, making this the most commonly performed of all surgical procedures (Isaacson 1996). In approximately 10% of cases the patient treated with tympanostomy tubes is left with a permanent perforation of the tympanic membrane that requires surgical repair. Current surgical technique involves grafting of an autologous tissue such as temporalis fascia or tragal cartilage to the perforated membrane (Paterson 1999). This is an involved surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. We propose tissue engineering an autologous cartilage tympanic membrane patch. If successful this approach has the potential to transform an operating room procedure to an office procedure. This would provide tremendous healthcare savings, and potentially obviate the need for tens of thousands of children to undergo general anesthesia.

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