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Isolated fracture of the manubrium of the malleus

  • W Chien (a1) (a2), M J McKenna (a1) (a2), J J Rosowski (a1) (a2) (a3) and S N Merchant (a1) (a2) (a3)



To describe a series of five patients with isolated fracture of the manubrium of the malleus.


Retrospective case series.


Five patients aged 44–64 years with isolated fracture of the manubrium who presented to our institution over a five-year period (2000–2005).


All patients presented with a history of digitally manipulating the external auditory canal, leading to the manubrial fracture, which we presume was due to a suction-type mechanism. Otomicroscopy often revealed a break in the smooth contour of the manubrium. All patients had air–bone gaps on audiometry, especially at higher frequencies. Tympanometry showed hypermobility of the tympanic membrane in four patients who were tested. Laser-Doppler vibrometry revealed increased umbo velocity in four out of five patients. Four patients were treated conservatively. One patient underwent exploratory tympanotomy with successful ossiculoplasty.


Isolated fracture of the manubrium is a rare condition which may present as sudden-onset hearing loss after digital manipulation of the external auditory canal. The diagnosis can be made on the basis of otomicroscopy, audiometry, tympanometry and laser-Doppler vibrometry. Conservative treatment is often successful.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Wade Chien, 243 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Fax: +1 (978) 470 2679 E-mail:


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Isolated fracture of the manubrium of the malleus

  • W Chien (a1) (a2), M J McKenna (a1) (a2), J J Rosowski (a1) (a2) (a3) and S N Merchant (a1) (a2) (a3)


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