outer ear

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Related to outer ear: inner ear, middle ear, outer ear infection

outer ear

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


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The organ of hearing and equilibrium. It consists of outer, middle, and inner portions, and is innervated by the eighth cranial nerve. See: illustration

The pathway of hearing is as follows: the auricle funnels sound waves from the environment through the external auditory canal to the tympanic membrane, which makes this thin epithelial structure vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted to the auditory ossicles and then to the perilymph and endolymph. The receptors are part of the organ of Corti and generate impulses transmitted by the cochlear branch of the eighth cranial nerve to the spiral ganglion and auditory tracts of the brain. The auditory areas are in the temporal lobes.

The healthy human ear responds to a variety of sounds, with frequencies ranging from about 20 to 20,000 Hz. It is most sensitive, however, to sounds whose frequencies fall in the 1500- to 3000-Hz range, the frequency range of most human speech. See: hearing

The receptors for equilibrium are in the utricle, saccule, and semicircular ducts, which are innervated by the vestibular branch of the eighth cranial nerve. Impulses from the utricle and saccule provide information about the position of the head, those from the semicircular ducts about the speed and direction of three-dimensional movement.


See: Blainville ear

Cagot ear

An ear without a lower lobe.

cauliflower ear

A colloquial term for a thickening of the external ear resulting from trauma. It is commonly seen in boxers. Plastic surgery may restore the ear to a normal shape.

darwinian ear

See: darwinian ear

external ear

The portion of the ear consisting of the auricle and external auditory canal, and separated from the middle ear by the tympanic membrane or eardrum. Synonym: auris externa; outer ear

foreign bodies in ear

Objects that enter the ear accidentally or are inserted deliberately. These are usually insects, pebbles, beans or peas, cotton swabs, or coins.


Foreign objects cause pain, ringing, or buzzing in the ear. A live insect usually causes a noise.


Water must not introduced if any vegetable matter is in the ear because the water may push the foreign body further into the ear or cause the matter to swell and become firmly embedded.

To remove insects from the ear, a few drops of lidocaine should be instilled. Inorganic foreign bodies can be removed with small forceps by a health care provider.

glue ear

The chronic accumulation of a viscous exudate in the middle ear, occurring mostly in children between 5 and 8. It causes deafness, which can be treated by removal of the exudate.
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inner ear

The portion of the ear consisting of the cochlea, the vestibule, and the bony semicircular canals, which contain the receptors for static and dynamic equilibrium. The receptors are innervated by the vestibulocochlear nerve. Synonym: auris interna; Internal ear
See: illustration

internal ear

Inner ear.

lop ear

A cosmetic deformity of the earlobe in which the upper portion of the earlobe bows out laterally from the head.

middle ear

The air-filled expansion of the auditory tube separating the external auditory canal from the inner ear. Sound is transmitted through the middle ear as vibrations along a chain of three tiny bones, the auditory ossicles.
Synonym: tympanic cavity See: eardrum; tympanum

Mozart ear

See: Mozart ear

nerve supply of ear

External: The branches of the facial, vagus, and mandibular nerves and the nerves from the cervical plexus. Middle: The tympanic plexus and the branches of the mandibular, vagus, and facial nerves. Internal:The vestibulocochlear nerve (eighth cranial).

outer ear

External ear.

pierced ear

An earlobe that has been pierced with a needle so that a permanent channel will remain, permitting the wearing of an earring attached to the ear by a connector that passes through the channel.

surfer's ear

The formation of an exostosis in the external auditory canal of surfers, esp. those who habitually surf in colder waters.

swimmer's ear

A type of external otitis seen in swimmers, usually during the summer. It is typically caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa and is treated with a suspension of neomycin, polymyxin B sulfate, and hydrocortisone.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
Ticks and other foreign bodies in the outer ear can damage the eardrum and lead to inflammation of the middle ear [2].
An earplug just sitting in the bowl of the outer ear, without sealing the ear canal, is simply nice ear decor--offering little protection from noise.
Stitch the outer ear edges, moving the bag Fabric away from the ears to avoid stitching through it.
The main contributions of the proposed method are the following: (1) automatically detecting the ear part from the input image and normalizing the ear part based on the long axis of the outer ear contour and (2) extracting the discriminating Gabor features of the ear images using the Full Space Kernel Discriminant Analysis.
During surgery on the 14-year-old girl, which took place a few weeks ago, the medical team took cartilage from other parts of the body and reshaped it to look identical to the outer ear.
Among all acquired ear disorders that can be problematic for a dog, otitis externa--an infection of the outer ear canal is the most common.
Additional ear care items include the new ProRinse Ear-wax Removal Kit--the most complete and advanced kit available on the market to help in the removal of earwax; the Ear Dryer, which was invented by an ear, nose and throat specialist to dry the outer ear canal with a gentle flow of warm air; and Dry-n-Clear Ear Drying Aid drops, which help dry excess water and condition the lining of the ear canal.
A membrane called the eardrum separates the middle and outer ear. Typically, the air pressure on either side of the eardrum is about equal.
The category encompasses solutions for a variety of problems, ranging from earache and wax buildup to tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) and swimmers' ear (an infection of the outer ear canal).
* Otitis Externa: infection of the outer ear and ear canal
Who: Engineers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have developed a means of representing a 3D model ear to redefine the standard for an outer ear simulator used to measure sound in the way we perceive it.