European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 275, Issue 11, pp 2627–2632 | Cite as

Tri-dimensional model for ventilation tube permeability

  • Omer J. UngarEmail author
  • Solomon Dadia
  • Oron Yahav
  • Ophir Handzel
  • Dan M. Fliss
  • Oren Cavel



Ventilation tubes (VT) in the tympanic membrane expose the middle ear (ME) to the external auditory canal and its content. It carries the risk of penetration of contaminated material and could provide a pathway for the delivery of drugs into the ME. The aim of this study was to use a printed 3D-model of the external auditory canal (EAC) and ME to assess the permeability of various VTs to different fluids.


CT scan of the external and ME was 3D-reconstructed and printed. Five different types of VT were inserted in the model’s tympanic membrane and the minimal pressure for penetration to the ME was measured. Liquids with different viscosities, including commonly used ear drops, were tested.


Water passed through the standard 1.14 mm diameter VTs after filling the EAC with a volume of 2 ml and through a narrower grommet or a T-tube after filling the canal with 2.5 ml. Soapy-water had the highest penetration in all VTs (1–2 ml). The initial volume of dexamethasone needed for penetration was 2.5 ml in the standard tubes. It did not pass at any volume through the narrow grommet or the T-tube.


In the printed 3D-model, the volume of most solutions, including water, required to provide enough pressure in order to pass through the VTs was as high as the EAC volume or exceeded it. Soapy water had the highest penetrance while Dexamethasone needed volume of 2.5 ml to pass through the VT, questioning its reliability as a passive drug delivery channel to the ME.


Ventilation-tubes Three-D printing Otorrhea 



There are no financial interests, arrangements or payments to disclose.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Statement of human participants or animals

This research does not involve human participants or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Omer J. Ungar
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Solomon Dadia
    • 2
    • 3
  • Oron Yahav
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ophir Handzel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Dan M. Fliss
    • 1
    • 3
  • Oren Cavel
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and Maxillofacial SurgeryTel-Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Surgical 3D Printing LabTel-Aviv Sourasky Medical CenterTel AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Sackler School of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael

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