Objective: To investigate the significance of tympanic membrane collagen fiber layers in high frequency sound transmission.
Study Design: Human cadaver temporal bone study.
Methods: Laser Doppler vibrometry was used to measure stapes footplate movement in response to acoustic stimulation. The tympanic membrane was altered by creating a series of slits and applying paper patches to isolate the effects of specifically oriented collagen fibers. Three groups of membrane alterations were evaluated: 1) circumferentially oriented slits involving each quadrant to primarily disrupt radial fibers, made sequentially within superior-anterior, inferior-anterior, inferior-posterior, and superior-posterior quadrants; 2) the same slits made in the reverse order; and 3) radially oriented slits from the umbo to the annulus to primarily disrupt circumferential fibers. For each group, measurements of the middle-ear cavity pressure, ear canal pressure, and stapes velocity were made each time the tympanic membrane was altered.
Results: Regardless of the order in which the circumferentially oriented slits were made, there was a consistent decrease in stapes velocity above 4 kHz for the third and fourth cuts compared to the control. The mean decrease in the range of 4 to 12.5 kHz was 11 dB for the third patched slit and 14 dB for the fourth patched slit (P < .01). Radially oriented slits appear to produce smaller effects.
Conclusions: Radial collagen fibers in the tympanic membrane play an important role in the conduction of sound above 4 kHz.