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Open Access Open Badges Original research article

Can otoplasty impact hearing? A prospective randomized controlled study examining the effects of pinna position on speech reception and intelligibility

Michael L McNeil1, Steve J Aiken12, Manohar Bance123, Jeff R Leadbetter3 and Paul Hong124*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

2 School of Human Communication Disorders, Faculty of Health Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

3 SENSE Lab, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

4 IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 2013, 42:10  doi:10.1186/1916-0216-42-10

Published: 2 February 2013



Otoplasty is a commonly performed surgical procedure that restores the ideal position of the pinna. Although the pinna is a well-recognized component of the auditory apparatus, no studies have assessed the audiological effects of this procedure. We sought to quantify the impact of pinna repositioning on speech intelligibility and reception.


Eighteen adults with normal hearing and pinnae were recruited and the pinna positions were randomized in each participant. Intracanal acoustical analysis was performed to calculate the Speech Intelligibility Index (SII). Hearing In Noise Test (HINT) with two azimuth speaker arrangement was also performed. The outcome measures were compared using paired t-tests for both pinna positions.


The SII significantly improved with the pinna in forward position (49.3 vs. 45.8, p<0.001). HINT thresholds also improved with the pinna forward (-6.43dB vs. -5.08dB, p=0.0003).


Pinna position affects audiological performance, in both speech intelligibility and speech reception in noise. These are novel findings that may impact the informed consent process and decision to treat for patients undergoing otoplasty.