A medical student obtained this image using the Wispr digital otoscope. She would like your help in identifying the primary ear anatomy.
This is a healthy and normal ear. The eardrum (tympanic membrane) is the circular surface that dominates the image. The eardrum vibrates from sound waves. The vibration of the ear drum has to be transferred to the inner ear to produce electrical signals that we interpret as sound. The transfer of the vibrating eardrum to the inner ear is accomplished by three bones in the middle ear, these bones are “behind” the eardrum. Two of these bones can be seen in this image, the malleus, and the incus. The third bone, the stapes is not clearly visible in this image. The umbo is the distal end of the malleus that is generally centered in the ear drum. Finally, the chorda tympani nerve is also visible. This nerve provides taste sensation and secretory messages. It provides no innervation to the ear, it just happens to traverse the middle ear space.