Anatomic analysis of the conchal bowl cartilage

Hans C. Brockhoff, Christopher D. Morris, Gaylord S. Throckmorton, Rick Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose The conchal bowl is a portion of auricular cartilage commonly used as an autologous graft for various maxillofacial procedures. Few studies have attempted to describe the anatomy of this region in detail, particularly in relation to the curvature of the conchal bowl. The present study has provided detailed information about the anatomy of the auricular cartilage in the conchal bowl region that could assist in the surgical design of graft harvesting.

Materials and Methods A total of 35 pairs of cadaver ears without gross deformity (15 male, 20 female; aged 39 to 99 years) were dissected to completely expose the cartilage skeleton. Each cartilage was stabilized, and the conchal bowl was mapped. The starting reference point was defined as the intersection of the lateral border of the antihelix and the superiormost aspect of the inferior crux. A prefabricated grid was then used to imprint a 4 × 5 matrix of pinpoint ink spots on the surface of each cartilage, with 6-mm increments between each spot. The grid's y and x axes were then aligned with the landmarks above. Next, a MicroScribe 3-dimensional digitizer ( was used to capture the 3-dimensional coordinates for each point on the ear's surface and the coordinates were transferred into an Excel spreadsheet. After digitization, a Boley gauge was used to measure the thickness of the cartilage at each premarked spot. The gathered data points and measurements were examined to describe our parameters of interest (ie, depth, thickness, and curvature).

Conclusions A detailed understanding of the facial anatomy is important in the practice of facial surgery. The results we have presented will provide surgeons with information on the overall dimensions, thickness, and curvature of the conchal bowl that could allow more advantageous donor site selection.

Results The average maximum conchal bowl depth was 10.5 ± 3.0 mm in the female ears and 10.7 ± 2.5 mm in the male ears. In general, the conchal bowl depth at each point did not differ significantly between the males and females. The mean cartilage thickness ranged from 0.77 to 1.79 mm (mean 1.15 ± 0.26) in the females and 0.95 to 1.45 mm (mean 1.25 ± 0.23) in the males. Both genders showed an increase in the conchal bowl depth from inferiorly to superiorly and from posteriorly to anteriorly. The cartilage thickness also increased from posteriorly to anteriorly; however, the exact shape is complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2248-2255
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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