Contemporary Mechanics of Conductive Hearing Loss

Oper Tech Otolayngol Head Neck Surg. 2024 Mar;35(1):2-10. doi: 10.1016/j.otot.2024.01.001. Epub 2024 Jan 17.


The middle ear plays a critical role for the conversion of acoustic energy to mechanical vibrations that subsequently enter the cochlea. It is middle ear impedance matching through ossicular coupling that has enabled land-dwelling vertebrates to hear soft airborne sounds. Conductive hearing loss may result from damage to the delicate middle ear structures following infection, trauma or rapid pressure changes. An understanding of the mechanics of the middle ear significantly improves the oto-surgeon's ability to effectively diagnose conductive hearing loss, localize the responsible lesion and then effectively correct the conduction abnormality. This article reviews some of the basic knowledge of middle ear mechanics for sound transmission, highlights recent advances in developing new techniques to assist in diagnosis of middle ear disease, and finally sheds light on future research aimed at improving the diagnosis and management of middle ear pathology.

Keywords: Auditory mechanics; bone conduction; conductive hearing loss; holography; middle ear; optical coherence tomography.