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Surface morphology of middle ear epithelium in chronic ear disease

  • A. M. Agius (a1), M. Wake (a2), A. L. Pahor (a1) and L. A. Smallman (a3)


The ultrastructural details of normal middle ear mucosa have been reported in detail in the literature. This study was aimed at investigating the superficial structure of middle ear epithelium with the scanning electron microscope in patients with persistent otitis media with effusion (OME) and chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM), especially in the light of the authors' recent findings regarding decreased ciliary beat frequency (CBF) in patients exposed to tobacco smoke.

Mucosal biopsies were taken from the anterior mesotympanum in four patients with OME and another four patients with CSOM. There was no significant abnormality of cellular surface structure in patients with chronic middle ear disease. Furthermore, no significant difference was observed between smoke exposed and nonsmoke exposed patients. It is concluded that the effect of tobacco smoke on CBF is functional and not related to any anatomical abnormality observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM).


Corresponding author

Mr A. M. Agius, ‘Serenity’, Bergamott Street, Mosta MST 07, Malta.


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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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