Otol Neurotol 2018 12;39(10):e1054-e1059
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
Objective: To determine the feasibility of using temporal bone computed tomography (CT) scans to identify malleal ligaments and the prevalence of calcification in malleal ligaments.
Study Design: Retrospective case review. CT scans were blindly and retrospectively reviewed by two physicians (a radiologist and a nonradiologist). Scans differed by slice thickness, and included both conventional CT and cone beam CT (CBCT).
Setting: Ambulatory tertiary referral center.
Patients: One hundred fifty-one temporal bone CT scans, obtained between the years 2014 and 2017, were initially screened, which included 302 ears. Patients with previous tympanomastoid surgery or middle ear opacification were excluded, leaving 187 ears in the study.
Main Outcome Measure: Percentage of visible normal and calcified malleal ligaments.
Results: Scans with submillimeter slice thickness were more likely to demonstrate all three malleal ligaments than those with 1 ml and larger slices (83.7% versus 50.0% for nonradiologist, p < 0.0001; 59.6 versus 34.8% for radiologist, p < 0.0001). Calcification was seen in 11.8% of ears reviewed. The ability to detect malleal ligaments with cone beam CT was 86.2%, while the rate with conventional CT was 71.1%, a difference that persisted when controlling for slice thickness. Interobserver agreement for the detection of malleal ligaments was 65% with a Cohen's kappa coefficient of κ = 0.27.
Conclusion: Visualization of the malleal ligaments using CT scans is feasible in a majority of aerated ears. Detection of malleal ligaments improves with thinner slice thickness and cone-beam technique. Low interobserver agreement suggests the importance of experience and a need for standardized review.