Mechanical properties of human tympanic membrane in the quasi-static regime from in situ point indentation measurements

Laboratory of Biomedical Physics, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium.
Hearing research (Impact Factor: 2.97). 05/2012; 290(1-2):45-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.heares.2012.05.001
Source: PubMed


The tympanic membrane is a key component of the human auditory apparatus. Good estimates of tympanic membrane mechanical properties are important to obtain realistic models of middle ear mechanics. Current literature values are almost all derived from direct mechanical tests on cut-out strips. For a biomedical specimen like the tympanic membrane, it is not always possible to harvest strips of uniform and manageable geometry and well-defined size suitable for such mechanical tests. In this work, elastic and viscoelastic properties of human tympanic membrane were determined through indentation testing on the tympanic membrane in situ. Indentation experiments were performed on three specimens with a custom-built apparatus that was also used in previously published works. Two types of indentation tests were performed on each specimen: (i) sinusoidal indentation at 0.2 Hz yielding the quasi-static Young's modulus and (ii) step indentation tests yielding viscoelastic properties in the quasi-static regime (0-20 Hz). In the cyclic indentation experiments (type i), the indentation depth and resulting needle force were recorded. The unloaded shape of the tympanic membrane and the membrane thickness were measured and used to create a specimen-specific finite element model of the experiment. The Young's modulus was then found through optimization of the error between model and experimental data; the values that were found for the three different samples are 2.1 MPa, 4.4 MPa and 2.3 MPa. A sensitivity analysis showed that these values are very sensitive to the thickness used in the models. In the step indentation tests (type ii), force relaxation was measured during 120 s and the relaxation curves were fitted with a 5 parameter Maxwell viscoelastic model. The relaxation curves in the time domain were transformed to complex moduli in the frequency domain, yielding viscoelastic properties in the quasi-static regime only.

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    • "cal properties of human TM were investigated using in situ indentation measurements ( Aernouts et al . , 2012 ) . For a quasi - static indentation frequency of 0 . 2 Hz , an average Young ' s modulus of ( 2 . 9 AE 1 . 3 ) MPa was found . This value is considerably less than most of the values in the literature , which range from 20 MPa to 60 MPa . Aernouts et al . ( 2012 ) also report that the value for the Young ' s modulus that is needed to fit model predictions to experimental data is very dependent on the thickness used in the model . Since the average Fig . 4 . The thickness of the TM coded in the finite element model composed from segmentation of CT - images of a right human ear . The segmented TM"
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    ABSTRACT: A new anatomically-accurate Finite Element (FE) model of the tympanic membrane (TM) and malleus was combined with measurements of the sound-induced motion of the TM surface and the bony manubrium, in an isolated TM–malleus preparation. Using the results, we were able to address two issues related to how sound is coupled to the ossicular chain: (i) Estimate the viscous damping within the tympanic membrane itself, the presence of which may help smooth the broadband response of a potentially highly resonant TM, and (ii) Investigate the function of a peculiar feature of human middle-ear anatomy, the thin mucosal epithelial fold that couples the mid part of the human manubrium to the TM. Sound induced motions of the surface of ex vivo human eardrums and mallei were measured with stroboscopic holography, which yields maps of the amplitude and phase of the displacement of the entire membrane surface at selected frequencies. The results of these measurements were similar, but not identical to measurements made in intact ears. The holography measurements were complemented by laser-Doppler vibrometer measurements of sound-induced umbo velocity, which were made with fine-frequency resolution. Comparisons of these measurements to predictions from a new anatomically accurate FE model with varied membrane characteristics suggest the TM contains viscous elements, which provide relatively low damping, and that the epithelial fold that connects the central section of the human manubrium to the TM only loosely couples the TM to the manubrium. The laser-Doppler measurements in two preparations also suggested the presence of significant variation in the complex modulus of the TM between specimens. Some animations illustrating the model results are available at our website (
    Hearing research 06/2014; 312. DOI:10.1016/j.heares.2014.03.002 · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    • "The tympanic membrane has been studied with different techniques capable of measuring surface mechanical parameters and displacements [12–16]. However, most of them do not consider the shape in their data analyses. "
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    ABSTRACT: The data acquisition from the shape of an object is a must to complete its quantitative displacement measurement analysis. Over the past years whole field of view optical non-invasive testing has been widely used in many areas, from industrial ones to, for instance, biomedical research topics. To measure the surface contour from the tympanic membrane (TM) of ex-vivo cats digital holographic interferometry (DHI) is used in combination with a two-illumination positions method: the shape is directly measured from the phase change between two source positions by means of a digital Fourier transform method. The TM shape data in conjunction with its displacement data renders a complete and accurate description of the TM deformation, a feature that no doubt will serve to better comprehend the hearing process. Acquiring knowledge from the tissue shape indicates a mechanical behavior and, indirectly, an alteration in the physiological structure due to middle ear diseases or damages in the tissue that can deteriorate sound transmission. The TM shape contour was successfully measured by using two source positions within DHI showing that the TM has a conical shape. Its maximum depth was found to be 2 mm, considering the umbo as the reference point with respect to the TM annulus plane, where the setup is arranged in such a manner that it is capable of measuring a height of up to 7 mm.
    Biomedical Optics Express 12/2012; 3(12):3203-10. DOI:10.1364/BOE.3.003203 · 3.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human tympanic membrane (TM) transfers sound in the ear canal into the mechanical vibration of the ossicles in the middle ear. The dynamic properties of TM directly affect the middle ear transfer function. The static or quasi-static mechanical properties of TM were reported in the literature, but the dynamic properties of TM over the auditory frequency range are very limited. In this paper, a new method was developed to measure the dynamic properties of human TM using the Dynamic-Mechanical Analyzer (DMA). The test was conducted at the frequency range of 1-40 Hz at three different temperatures: 5, 25, and 37 °C. The frequency-temperature superposition was applied to extend the testing frequency range to a much higher level (at least 3800 Hz). The generalized linear solid model was employed to describe the constitutive relation of the TM. The storage modulus E' and the loss modulus E″ were obtained from 11 specimens. The mean storage modulus was 15.1 MPa at 1 Hz and 27.6 MPa at 3800 Hz. The mean loss modulus was 0.28 MPa at 1 Hz and 4.1 MPa at 3800 Hz. The results show that the frequency-temperature superposition is a feasible approach to study the dynamic properties of the ear soft tissues. The dynamic properties of human TM obtained in this study provide a better description of the damping behavior of ear tissues. The properties can be transferred into the finite element model of the human ear to replace the Rayleigh type damping. The data reported here contribute to the biomechanics of the middle ear and improve the accuracy of the FE model for the human ear.
    Annals of Biomedical Engineering 07/2012; 41(1). DOI:10.1007/s10439-012-0624-2 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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