Imaging microscopy of the middle and inner ear. Part I: CT microscopy

John I. Lane, Robert J. Witte, Colin L.W. Driscoll, John J. Camp, Richard A. Robb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Anatomic definition of the middle ear and bony labyrinth in the clinical setting remains limited despite significant technological advances in computed tomography (CT). Recent developments in ultra-high resolution imaging for use in the research laboratory on small animals and pathologic specimens have given rise to the field of imaging microscopy. We have taken advantage of this technique to image a human temporal bone cadaver specimen to delineate middle ear and labyrinthine structures, only seen previously using standard light microscopy. This approach to the study of the inner ear avoids tissue destruction inherent in histological preparations. We present high-resolution MicroCT images of the middle ear and bony labyrinth to highlight the utility of this technique in teaching radiologists and otolaryngologists clinically relevant temporal bone anatomy. This study is not meant to function as a complete anatomic atlas of the temporal bone. We have selected several structures that are routinely delineated on clinical scanners to highlight the utility of imaging microscopy in displaying critical anatomic relationships in three orthogonal planes. These anatomic relationships can be further enhanced using 3D volume rendering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-612
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2004


  • CT microscopy
  • Inner ear
  • Middle ear
  • Temporal bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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