Merck Manual

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External Ear Anatomy
External Ear Anatomy
External Ear Anatomy

    The human ear is divided into three compartments: the external ear, middle ear, and inner ear.

    The external ear is the auricle, or pinna, a cartilage-supported fleshy flap that helps to funnel sound waves into the external auditory canal. Sound waves travel down this canal to the tympanic membrane, a thin sheet of connective tissue also known as the eardrum. When sound waves strike the tympanic membrane, it vibrates. The mechanical energy of the sound waves is converted into the mechanical energy of eardrum vibration.

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