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August 1967

Innervation Patterns of the Human Stapedius Muscle

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. Dr. Blevins is now with the Department of Anatomy, Baylor University School of Medicine, Houston.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1967;86(2):136-142. doi:10.1001/archotol.1967.00760050138003

ALTHOUGH considerable information has accumulated concerning the function of middle ear muscles in auditory mechanisms, little is known of the neuromuscular substrate on which their function depends. The gross and histologic features of the tensor tympani and stapedius muscles in several species have been described by a number of investigators,1-6 but only recently has investigation been directed toward the pattern of their fine innervation. Detailed studies of innervation for the tympanic muscles of the rabbit7-8 and the cat9-10 already have been reported. In these species the muscles are richly supplied with motor nerves but exhibit poorly defined sensory innervation. Furthermore they have small motor units which presumably account for their finely coordinated contraction.

The innervation patterns of human tympanic muscles have received relatively little attention. Both motor and sensory innervation have been observed in the tensor tympani of man,11 but the size of motor units has