A downloadable three-dimensional virtual model of the visible ear

ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2007;69(2):63-7. doi: 10.1159/000097369. Epub 2006 Nov 23.


Purpose: To develop a three-dimensional (3-D) virtual model of a human temporal bone and surrounding structures.

Methods: A fresh-frozen human temporal bone was serially sectioned and digital images of the surface of the tissue block were recorded (the 'Visible Ear'). The image stack was resampled at a final resolution of 50 x 50 x 50/100 micro m/voxel, registered in custom software and segmented in PhotoShop 7.0. The segmented image layers were imported into Amira 3.1 to generate smooth polygonal surface models.

Results: The 3-D virtual model presents the structures of the middle, inner and outer ears in their surgically relevant surroundings. It is packaged within a cross-platform freeware, which allows for full rotation, visibility and transparency control, as well as the ability to slice the 3-D model open at any section. The appropriate raw image can be superimposed on the cleavage plane. The model can be downloaded at: (https://research.meei.harvard.edu/Otopathology/3dmodels/).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ear / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • User-Computer Interface*