Investigation of the mechanics of type III stapes columella tympanoplasty using laser-Doppler vibrometry

Wade Chien, John J. Rosowski, Saumil N. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To investigate the middle ear mechanics of Type III stapes columella tympanoplasty using laser-Doppler vibrometry (LDV) and to determine whether LDV was useful in the identification of structural factors responsible for poor hearing outcomes. BACKGROUND: The Type III stapes columella tympanoplasty procedure involves placing a tympanic membrane (TM) graft directly onto the stapes head. Postoperative hearing results vary widely, with air-bone gaps (ABGs) ranging from 10 to 60 dB. METHODS: Laser-Doppler vibrometry measurements were performed in 22 patients (23 ears) who underwent Type III stapes columella tympanoplasty. The measurements were made at three locations on the TM graft: over the stapes head, over the round window, and on the anterior TM. The LDV results were correlated with the clinical and audiologic findings. RESULTS: The 23 ears were divided into three groups:Nonaerated ears (n = 2). The ABGs were 30 to 60 dB. The TM velocities over all three locations were 20 to 40 dB lower than normal umbo velocity (in normally hearing subjects). Fixed stapes with aerated middle ear (n = 2). The ABGs were 40 to 60 dB, and TM velocities were equivalent to normal umbo velocity in one case and lower by 15 to 20 dB in another case. Mobile stapes and aerated middle ear (n = 19). There were two subgroups in this category: 1) small ABGs less than 25 dB (n = 7) and large gaps greater than or equal to 25 dB (n = 12). There were small differences in TM graft velocity at all three measurement locations between these two subgroups. However, these small differences did not explain the large difference in ABG between the two subgroups. CONCLUSION: Nonaeration of the middle ear and stapes fixation lead to large residual conductive hearing losses after Type III tympanoplasty. Laser-Doppler vibrometry can aid in the diagnosis of nonaeration of the middle ear but does not readily diagnose stapes fixation. Postoperative results can vary even in cases of a mobile stapes and an aerated middle ear. We hypothesize that these variations may be the result of differences in the coupling between the TM graft and the stapes head. Measurements of TM velocities by means of LDV did not show clear differences between cases with good hearing and cases with poor hearing in ears with a mobile stapes and an aerated ear. Except for diagnosis of nonaeration of the middle ear, LDV seems to have limited clinical usefulness to identify causes of failure after Type III tympanoplasty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-787
Number of pages6
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Air-bone gap
  • Laser-Doppler vibrometry
  • Middle ear mechanics
  • Tympanoplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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