Three-dimensional finite element modeling of human ear for sound transmission

Ann Biomed Eng. 2004 Jun;32(6):847-59. doi: 10.1023/b:abme.0000030260.22737.53.


An accurate, comprehensive finite element model of the human ear can provide better understanding of sound transmission, and can be used for assessing the influence of diseases on hearing and the treatment of hearing loss. In this study, we proposed a three-dimensional finite element model of the human ear that included the external ear canal, tympanic membrane (eardrum), ossicular bones, middle ear suspensory ligaments/muscles, and middle ear cavity. This model was constructed based on a complete set of histological section images of a left ear temporal bone. The finite element (FE) model of the human ear was validated by comparing model-predicted ossicular movements at the stapes footplate and tympanic membrane with published experimental measurements on human temporal bones. The FE model was employed to predict the effects of eardrum thickness and stiffness, incudostapedial joint material, and cochlear load on acoustic-mechanical transmission through the human ossicular chain. The acoustic-structural coupled FE analysis between the ear canal air column and middle ear ossicles was also conducted and the results revealed that the peak responses of both tympanic membrane and stapes footplate occurred between 3000 and 4000 Hz.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Acoustics
  • Bone Conduction / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Ear, Middle / physiology*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Sound*
  • Vibration