Intraoperative assessment of ossicular fixation

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Abstract

Determining the degree of ossicular fixation is a difficult task, with the final assessment often being made with manual palpation during exploratory tympanotomy. A more objective method to evaluate ossicular fixation would be valuable.

In this paper we describe a new method which makes use of a magnet and coil to measure ossicular motion through the ear canal with an elevated tympanic membrane. We report measurements of the vibration response at the umbo, the tip of the incus long process and the lateral posterior crus of the stapes before and after artificially fixing the stapes footplate and anterior mallear ligament with luting cement. Results were obtained on temporal bones, but the practicality of the method allows easy clinical implementation. Velocity ratios between different measurement points along the ossicular chain may provide a quantitative indication of the degree of stapes fixation. Isolated anterior mallear ligament fixation was not distinguishable from the unfixed condition.

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