A Non-linear Viscoelastic Model of the Incudostapedial Joint
The ossicular joints of the middle ear can significantly affect middle-ear function, particularly under conditions such as high-intensity sound pressures or high quasi-static pressures. Experimental investigations of the mechanical behaviour of the human incudostapedial joint have shown strong non-linearity and asymmetry in tension and compression tests, but some previous finite-element models of the joint have had difficulty replicating such behaviour. In this paper, we present a finite-element model of the joint that can match the asymmetry and non-linearity well without using different model structures or parameters in tension and compression. The model includes some of the detailed structures of the joint seen in histological sections. The material properties are found from the literature when available, but some parameters are calculated by fitting the model to experimental data from tension, compression and relaxation tests. The model can predict the hysteresis loops of loading and unloading curves. A sensitivity analysis for various parameters shows that the geometrical parameters have substantial effects on the joint mechanical behaviour. While the joint capsule affects the tension curve more, the cartilage layers affect the compression curve more.
Keywordsmiddle ear ossicular chain incudostapedial joint finite-element mechanical behaviour
The authors thank Calcul Québec and Compute Canada for providing high performance computation facilities for this research. The authors also thank Clarinda C. Northrop for providing us with valuable histological images.
This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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