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External ear

Learning objectives

This study unit will help you to:

  1. Identify the main structures of the external ear.
  2. Name the extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the external ear.
  3. Master the vascularization, innervation and function of the external ear.

Watch video

The external ear is made up of two main components: the auricle and the external acoustic meatus. The auricle (pinna) is formed by a sheet of elastic fibrocartilaginous tissue covered by skin. It has a funnel-like shape with several depressions and elevations that help to collect and conduct sound waves from the outside into the external acoustic meatus. The external acoustic meatus is a part cartilaginous, part osseous tube that starts at the deepest part of the auricle and ends with the tympanic membrane. It is lined by the skin and contains hair and ceruminous glands which secrete wax, or cerumen. The tympanic membrane (eardrum) represents the border between the external and middle ear. Its main function is to transmit the sound waves for the external acoustic meatus to the ossicles located in the middle ear.

This video tutorial will provide you with an overview of the components of the external ear.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the video about the external ear, test your knowledge by taking our quiz.

Do you have more knowledge that needs to be tested? Don't worry, our custom quiz about the ear covers all the ear-related topics:

Browse atlas

Now you can observe each structure in more detail with our image gallery. 


Key points about the external ear
Parts Auricle, external acoustic meatus, tympanic membrane
Muscles Extrinsic muscles: auricularis superior, auricularis anterior, auricularis posterior
Intrinsic muscles: tragicus, antitragicus, obliquus auriculae, transversus auriculae, helicis major, helicis minor
Blood supply Posterior auricular artery;
Anterior auricular branches of superficial temporal artery;
Small branches of occipital artery, deep auricular artery (of maxillary artery), and inferior tympanic artery (of ascending pharyngeal artery)
Innervation Great auricular nerve;
Auriculotemporal nerve (branch of mandibular nerve (CN V3))
Function Conduction of sound waves to the middle ear

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