Evaluation of the human petrotympanic fissure using anatomized cadaveric specimens and multi-detector CT imaging

  • Óscar Villalba
  • Santiago Rojas
  • Marisa Ortega
  • Alberto Solano
  • Alfonso Rodríguez-BaezaEmail author
Original Article



The purpose of the current study is twofold. First, to investigate the variability of the petrotympanic fissure’s (PTF) morphology in anatomized human cadaveric specimens using multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT), and second, to compare the resulting measurements to investigate the possibilities of applying MDCT in the determination of PTF morphology in living humans.


Specimens (n = 15) containing the temporal bone and TMJ were obtained from embalmed adult female (53.3%) and male (46.7%) cadavers and imaged using a helical 16-row scanner. Afterwards, cryosections were obtained and morphometric parameters were measured. Degree of agreement between both determinations was investigated and morphometric variables were also compared between PTF types.


Three different types of PTF were identified. Type 1 was a wide tunnel-shaped structure. It was found in 20% of the cases. Type 2 was wide in the entrance but gradually narrows to the tympanic cavity. It was found in 46.7% of specimens. Finally, type 3, which was observed in 33.3% of the cases, was wide at the entrance of the mandibular fossa, followed by a middle region with flat-shaped tunnel structure and a narrow exit. The PTF’s vertical diameters at the mandibular fossa, midpoint, and tympanic cavity and the width at the mandibular fossa all were significantly greater in type 1 specimens.


MDCT is suitable for investigating the variable morphology of human PTF and its association with middle ear’s and TMJ pathologies.


Petrotympanic fissure Middle ear Temporomandibular joint Multi-detector computed tomography Human anatomy 


Author contributions

OV: Protocol/project development, data collection or management. SR: Data analysis, manuscript writing/editing. MO: Data analysis, manuscript writing/editing. AS: Data collection or management. AR: Protocol/project development, data analysis, and manuscript writing/editing.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Óscar Villalba
    • 1
  • Santiago Rojas
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marisa Ortega
    • 2
    • 4
  • Alberto Solano
    • 5
  • Alfonso Rodríguez-Baeza
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Clinic and Dental Center EmpuriabravaEmpuriabravaSpain
  2. 2.Unit of Human Anatomy and Embryology, Department of Morphological Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC)VicSpain
  4. 4.Hospitalet de LlobregatInstitute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Department of RadiologyHospital del Mar de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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