The foramen tympanicum (FT) represents a developmental anomaly that forms due to incomplete fusion of processes of the tympanic ring. Its presence in the population is controversial and it has been associated with a number of otologic complications. The aim of this study was to systematically analyze the prevalence, anatomical characteristics, and ethnic variations of the FT and compare these parameters in cadaveric and radiologic studies.Methods:
An extensive search was conducted through the major electronic databases, and identified articles were separated into 2 groups based on their methodology: cadaveric and radiologic studies. Data extracted included study modality, prevalence data, ethnicity, gender, side, laterality, and diameter.Results:
A total of 8 studies (n = 2671 patients) were included into our meta-analysis. The main findings revealed that the prevalence of the FT in the population is 14.9%, it is more often unilateral (62.5%) than bilateral (37.5%), it is most often reported in Asia (21.4%), and it is more prevalent in cadavers (21.2%) than in radiologic studies (8.8%) (not statistically significant).Conclusion:
As the FT is present in more than one-tenth of the population, it is important to consider the possibilities of its presence when undertaking surgical procedures in the temporomandibular joint and ear region and plan accordingly to avoid injuries. Clinicians should keep it as one of the possible diagnoses while confronted with patients presenting with otologic complications. The use of newer imaging techniques was recommended, such as cone-beam computer tomography to detect the FT prior to surgery.