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Open Access Open Badges Original research article

Laser Doppler Vibrometry measurements of human cadaveric tympanic membrane vibration

Jason A Beyea1, Seyed Alireza Rohani2, Hanif M Ladak1234 and Sumit K Agrawal145*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, ON, Canada

2 Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, Western University, London, ON, Canada

3 Department of Medical Biophysics, Western University, London, ON, Canada

4 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Western University, London, ON, Canada

5 Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Western University, 339 Windermere Road, P.O. Box 5339, London, ON, Canada

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Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery 2013, 42:17  doi:10.1186/1916-0216-42-17

Published: 25 February 2013



To determine the feasibility of measuring tympanic membrane (TM) vibrations at multiple locations on the TM to differentiate normal eardrums from those with associated ossicular pathologies.


Cadaveric human temporal bone study.


Basic science laboratory.


A mastoidectomy and facial recess approach was performed on four cadaveric temporal bones to obtain access to the ossicles without disrupting the TM. Ossicles were palpated to ensure normal mobility and an intact ossicular chain. Laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV) measurements were then taken on all four TMs. LDV measurements were repeated on each TM following stapes footplate fixation, incudo-stapedial joint dislocation, and malleus head fixation.

Main outcome measures

LDV measurements of TM vibration at the umbo, the lateral process of the malleus, and in each of the four quadrants of the TM.


The best signal-to-noise ratios were found between 2 and 4 kHz, at the umbo, the anterior superior quadrant, the anterior inferior quadrant, and the posterior inferior quadrant. Since our goal was to assess the ossicular chain, we selected the TM locations closest to the ossicular chain (the umbo and lateral process of the malleus) for further analysis. Differences could be seen between normals and the simulated ossicular pathologies, but values were not statistically significant.


LDV measurements are technically challenging and require optimization to obtain consistent measurements. This study demonstrates the potential of LDV to differentiate ossicular pathologies behind an intact tympanic membrane. Future studies will further characterize the clinical role of this diagnostic modality.

Laser Doppler Vibrometry; Malleus head fixation; Incudo-stapedial joint separation; Otosclerosis; Tympanic membrane vibration; Conductive hearing loss