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June 1991

Age-Related Morphologic Changes in the Human Tympanic MembraneA Light and Electron Microscopic Study

Author Affiliations

From the University of Minnesota Otitis Media Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Minnesota Medical School and the Minnesota Ear, Head, and Neck Clinic, P.A., Minneapolis (Drs Ruah, Paparella, and Yoon and Ms Schachern); and the Division of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Dr Zelterman).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(6):627-634. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870180063013

• To our knowledge, the normal changes that occur in the tympanic membrane after birth have not been described, despite several reports that their otoscopic appearance in healthy, full-term infants is different from that in adults. To provide such a description, the tympanic membranes of 54 temporal bones that had no pathologic evidence of otologic diseases, from patients aged 33 weeks' gestation to 91 years, were examined with light or electron microscopy. The changes encountered in thickness, cellularity, vascularity, collagen, and elastin indicated that the eardrum continues to change beyond the first year of life and into old age.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991; 117:627-634)