Pars tensa and tympanicomalleal joint: proposal for a new anatomic classification

Nelson Gilberto, Ricardo S. Santos, Pedro Sousa, Assunção O’Neill, Pedro Escada, Diogo Pais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The tympanic membrane (TM) belongs to the ear. Despite its place in the ear anatomy, can we give it also a different anatomic classification? The main objective is to clarify the nature of TM, tympanic bone and malleus to propose a new anatomic classification. Methods: This cadaveric study was performed in two human heads and six fresh temporal bones. A study of the temporomandibular joint, external acoustic meatus (EAM), TM and middle ear structures was conducted. A medical literature review englobing anatomy, embryology, histology and phylogeny of the ear was performed and the results were compared with the results of the dissection. Results: The external ear is constituted by the auricle and the EAM. This last segment is made by a cartilaginous and an osseous portion. The osseous portion of the EAM is constituted mainly by tympanic bone. The external ear is separated from the middle ear by the TM. Inside the middle ear, there are three ossicles: malleus, incus and stapes, which allow the conduction of sound to the cochlea. Based on the anatomic dissection and medical literature review of the tympanic bone, malleus and TM, we propose that these structures are interconnected like a joint, and named it “Tympanicomalleal joint”. Conclusions: It seems that the TM can be part of a joint that evolved to improve sound transmission and middle ear protection. Thinking TM has part of a joint may help in the development of more efficient reconstructive surgical techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2141-2148
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number8
Early online date19 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Anatomy
  • Ear ossicles
  • External ear
  • Middle ear
  • Tympanic membrane
  • Tympanoplasty


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