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J R Soc Med. 1995 July; 88(7): 367–368.
PMCID: PMC1295263

The lessons of middle-ear function in non-mammals: improving columellar prostheses.


Due to the simplicity of their manufacture and placement, middle-ear prostheses are generally constructed using only a single 'ossicle'. The variety of pathologies frequently make it necessary to devise individual solutions and the results are often unsatisfactory. Many methods of improving the prostheses have been tried, with very mixed results. Even until recently, the fundamental assumptions underlying the use of single-ossicle, or columellar, prosthesis have been questioned, with suggestions that this type of prosthesis should be abandoned in favour of attempts to reconstruct a true three-ossicle middle ear. As some of the assumptions in the literature regarding columellar middle ears are incorrect and some published information is not easily accessible, a brief review of pertinent details of non-mammalian systems is given here.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Mills R. Applied comparative anatomy of the avian middle ear. J R Soc Med. 1994 Mar;87(3):155–156. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Saunders JC, Johnstone BM. A comparative analysis of middle-ear function in non-mammalian vertebrates. Acta Otolaryngol. 1972 Apr;73(4):353–361. [PubMed]
  • Saunders JC. Auditory structure and function in the bird middle ear: an evaluation by SEM and capacitive probe. Hear Res. 1985 Jun;18(3):253–268. [PubMed]
  • Khanna SM, Tonndorf J. Tympanic membrane vibrations in cats studied by time-averaged holography. J Acoust Soc Am. 1972 Jun;51(6):1904–1920. [PubMed]
  • Tonndorf J, Khanna SM. The role of the tympanic membrane in middle ear transmission. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1970 Aug;79(4):743–753. [PubMed]

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