Experimental Study of Vibrations of Gerbil Tympanic Membrane with Closed Middle Ear Cavity

  • Nima Maftoon
  • W. Robert J. FunnellEmail author
  • Sam J. Daniel
  • Willem F. Decraemer
Research Article


The purpose of the present work is to investigate the spatial vibration pattern of the gerbil tympanic membrane (TM) as a function of frequency. In vivo vibration measurements were done at several locations on the pars flaccida and pars tensa, and along the manubrium, on surgically exposed gerbil TMs with closed middle ear cavities. A laser Doppler vibrometer was used to measure motions in response to audio frequency sine sweeps in the ear canal. Data are presented for two different pars flaccida conditions: naturally flat and retracted into the middle ear cavity. Resonance of the flat pars flaccida causes a minimum and a shallow maximum in the displacement magnitude of the manubrium and pars tensa at low frequencies. Compared with a flat pars flaccida, a retracted pars flaccida has much lower displacement magnitudes at low frequencies and does not affect the responses of the other points. All manubrial and pars tensa points show a broad resonance in the range of 1.6 to 2 kHz. Above this resonance, the displacement magnitudes of manubrial points, including the umbo, roll off with substantial irregularities. The manubrial points show an increasing displacement magnitude from the lateral process toward the umbo. Above 5 kHz, phase differences between points along the manubrium start to become more evident, which may indicate flexing of the tip of the manubrium or a change in the vibration mode of the malleus. At low frequencies, points on the posterior side of the pars tensa tend to show larger displacements than those on the anterior side. The simple low-frequency vibration pattern of the pars tensa becomes more complex at higher frequencies, with the breakup occurring at between 1.8 and 2.8 kHz. These observations will be important for the development and validation of middle ear finite-element models for the gerbil.


middle ear pars tensa pars flaccida manubrium vibration pattern laser Doppler vibrometry 



The authors would like to thank Ms. Shruti Nambiar and Ms. Zinan He for their contributions to the development of the surgical and measurement techniques; Dr. Jim Gourdon for the advice on the anesthesia procedure; and Dr. Dan Citra for his help in dealing with the animals. This work was supported in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada), the Montréal Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the McGill University Health Centre Research Institute and the Research Fund of Flanders (Belgium).


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Copyright information

© Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nima Maftoon
    • 1
  • W. Robert J. Funnell
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sam J. Daniel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Willem F. Decraemer
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BioMedical EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of Pediatric SurgeryMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck SurgeryMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Biomedical PhysicsUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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