Tympanic membrane/middle ear pathologic correlates in chronic otitis media

Vikram J. Jaisinghani, Michael M. Paparella, Patricia A. Schachern, Chap T. Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective: To correlate pathologic findings of the tympanic membrane with pathologic changes in the middle ear cleft in chronic otitis media. Study Design: Retrospective. Material and Methods: One hundred-fifty temporal bones from 97 subjects with chronic otitis media (defined as middle ear pathologic changes including granulation tissue, fluid, cholesteatoma, cholesterol granuloma, tympanosclerosis, and ossicular changes) were selected to correlate the presence of these middle ear pathologies with histopathologic changes of the tympanic membrane. The tympanic membrane pathologies included perforation, myringosclerosis, retraction, hemorrhage, fluid-filled cystic spaces, or dilated vessels. Temporal bones were also assessed for atelectasis. Fifty-six normal temporal bones were taken as controls for measurements. Results: Significant correlations between tympanic membrane and middle ear pathology included myringosclerosis and granulation tissue, myringosclerosis and ossicular pathology, retraction and cholesterol granuloma, retraction and cholesteatoma, retraction and ossicular pathology, perforation and ossicular pathology, and hemorrhage and granulation tissue. Additive effects of some pathologies were also observed. Almost half the bones with middle ear pathology had no associated tympanic membrane pathology, whereas multiple pathologic changes in the tympanic membrane generally showed underlying multiple pathologic changes in the middle ear. Conclusion: When tympanic membrane pathology is detected otoscopically, its presence, alone or in combination, can be a strong indicator of underlying middle ear pathology. However, a normal-appearing tympanic membrane does not exclude the possibility of middle ear pathology. These findings suggest the need for other diagnostic tools such as multifrequency tympanometry and otoacoustic emissions to complement otoscopy for diagnosis of middle ear pathology, especially in a tympanic membrane that appears 'normal'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-716
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Chronic otitis media
  • Histopathology
  • Middle ear
  • Tympanic membrane


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