Background: Usually temporal bone dissections are done with human temporal bones. Unfortunately human donors are rare. The analysis of animals' ear morphology might help to improve the quality of surgical training.
Material and methods: Temporal bones of the lamb and pig were drilled and measured under surgical aspects. The analysis focused on the outer morphology, the external ear canal, the mastoid and the middle ear. The data was compared to human anatomy in order to verify the lamb's and pig's temporal bone concerning suitability in ENT-education.
Results: The temporal bone of the young sheep is smaller than the human one. The hypotympanon is pronounced in a bullous manner. Tympanic membrane and middle ear are very similar to the human one. The outer ear canal is smaller and shorter. The pig has a long and narrow external ear canal but a very similar middle ear anatomy compared to humans. The mastoid in both animals is not pneumatized.
Discussion: The middle ear and the tympanic membrane of both animals are morphologically equal to the structures found in human ears. The lamb's middle ear can be used for teaching anatomy although some structures are smaller than in human ears. The pig's ear is not useful for training mastoidectomy but can be used for surgical exercises on the ossicular chain.
(c) Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart-New York.