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Overview of the Middle Ear

By

Richard T. Miyamoto

, MD, MS, Indiana University School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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Topic Resources

The middle ear consists of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and an air-filled chamber containing a chain of three bones (ossicles) that connect the eardrum to the inner ear (see Middle Ear). The middle ear acts as an amplifier of sound, whereas the inner ear acts as a transducer, changing mechanical sound waves into an electrical signal that is sent to the brain via the nerve of hearing (statoacoustic nerve).

Middle and inner ear disorders cause many of the same symptoms, and a disorder of the middle ear may cause an inner ear disorder and vice versa.

Middle ear disorders may occur because of

Doctors base the diagnosis on people's symptoms and the physical examination. Doctors examine the ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope and often do hearing tests. Doctors also examine the nose and upper and middle parts of the throat for infections, allergies, and tumors.

A Look Inside the Ear

The middle ear consists of the eardrum, an air-filled chamber containing a chain of three tiny bones (malleus, incus, stapes), and the entrance to the eustachian tube. The middle ear transfers vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear through the oval window, which helps to change them into sound.

A Look Inside the Ear
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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