Temporal bone CT search pattern

Today we have a special guest, Dr. Katie Bailey from the University of South Florida who is presenting her approach to the temporal bone. Special thanks to her for this great video, and hopefully we will be having a lot of great new content from her in the future. This video will be part 1 of 2 in overviewing a starting approach to reviewing the temporal bone.

In this video, she goes through her structure approach to CT of the temporal bone. This approach is based upon an outside-in strategy, where you first look at the external ear, the middle ear, and then the inner ear. The coronal view is a nice place to start.

The key feature of the external ear is the external auditory canal, which should be patent but have a thin lining of mucosa. The external auditory canal ends at the scutum a thin sliver of bone along the top of the EAC.

The middle ear begins at the tympanic membrane, which should be so thin you can barely see it. The tympanic membrane articulates with the long arm of the malleus. A key space above the scutum is called Prussak’s space, which is a common location for cholesteatomas. The middle ear should only contain soft tissue and air. The middle ear is divided into upper (epitympanum), middle (mesotympanum), and lower (hypotempanum) segments. You should also be able to see the footplate of the stapes articulating with the oval window.

The mastoids connect with the middle ear and should be filled with air (no fluid or soft tissue). The roof of the mastoids is the tegmen mastoideum.

The inner ear contains the cochlea and semicircular canals. The cochlea should have 2 ½ turns and be surrounded by bright cortical bone. You have 3 semicircular canals (superior, lateral, and inferior) and should be about the same width. The internal auditory canal is hard to evaluate by CT but should be roughly a similar diameter with no expansion or loss of bone.

The facial nerve canal can be confusing. It is easiest to find at the stylomastoid foramen. You can follow it superiorly before turning and going under the lateral semicircular canal. The bone should be intact until it reaches the geniculate ganglion.

You can then turn to the axial views and review the ossicles. The malleus and incus should look like an ice cream cone. Another key feature is the fissula ante fenestrum, or the cortical bone next to the cochlea. This is a common place where otosclerosis can begin.

Finally, you want to review the axial images for everything out of the temporal bone. This includes the brain, sinuses, orbits, nasal cavity, salivary glands, and visible portions of the pharynx.

Summary. A coronal, outside-in approach to the temporal bone is a nice way to systematically review the temporal bone.

Thanks for tuning in and be sure to come back to check out part 2, temporal bone pathology. Or you can see all of the temporal bone videos or all the search pattern videos.


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