Endoscopic Anatomy of the Tensor Fold and Anterior Attic

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Abstract

Objectives

The objectives of the study were to (1) study the anatomical variations of the tensor fold and its anatomic relation with transverse crest, supratubal recess, and anterior epitympanic space and (2) explore the most appropriate endoscopic surgical approach to each type of the tensor fold variants.

Study Design

Cadaver dissection study.

Setting

Temporal bone dissection laboratory.

Subjects and Methods

Twenty-eight human temporal bones (26 preserved and 2 fresh) were dissected through an endoscopic transcanal approach between September 2016 and June 2017. The anatomical variations of the tensor fold, transverse crest, supratubal recess, and anterior epitympanic space were studied before and after removing ossicles.

Results

Three different tensor fold orientations were observed: vertical (type A, 11/28, 39.3%) with attachment to the transverse crest, oblique (type B, 13/28, 46.4%) with attachment to the anterior tegmen tympani, and horizontal (type C, 4/28, 14.3%) with attachment to the tensor tympani canal. The tensor fold was a complete membrane in 20 of 28 (71.4%) specimens, preventing direct ventilation between the supratubal recess and anterior epitympanic space. We identified 3 surgical endoscopic approaches, which allowed visualization of the tensor fold without removing the ossicles.

Conclusions

The orientation of the tensor fold is the determining structure that dictates the conformation and limits of the epitympanic space. We propose a classification of the tensor fold based on 3 anatomical variants. We also describe 3 different minimally invasive endoscopic approaches to identify the orientation of the tensor fold while maintaining ossicular chain continuity.

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