Structure: Components of the Ear

The ear is made up of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear consists of the visible pinna and the ear canal. This air-filled tube ends at the eardrum, which vibrates in response to sound. Beyond the eardrum lies the middle ear, also filled with air, which contains three tiny bones called the auditory ossicles – the malleus, incus, and stapes. These bones transmit vibrations from the eardrum to the membrane of the oval window, which separates the middle ear from the inner ear. In the fluid-filled inner ear is the cochlea, which contains the sensory receptor for hearing together with other structures that detect movement and balance.



This coiled structure is divided into three channels. The central cochlear canal contains the organ of Corti, the receptor for hearing.


This stirrup-shaped bone is one of the three tiny bones in the middle ear. It is the smallest bone in the body.


Sound causes this membrane to vibrate. These vibrations pass to the malleus, a tiny bone in the middle ear.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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