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What is the structure of the ear?

Eric E. Smouha, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)

Think of the ear as being made up of three parts, the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear:

  • The outer ear is made up of the visible part of the ear (the auricle) and the ear canal, which is lined with thin skin.
  • The middle ear is made up of the ear drum (tympanic membrane) and three small bones of hearing (ossicles). These three small bones are named the malleus (hammer), the incus (anvil), and the stapes (stirrup), and they help carry sound inward.
  • The inner ear is made up of the cochlea or hearing organ, and the balance canals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.