The Anatomical Record vol:294 issue:6 pages:987-995
The pars flaccida of the Meriones unguiculatus (Mongolian gerbil) was in previous studies shown to bulge almost spherically when pressurized, a behavior suggesting that it is suspended by a fixed circular boundary. The question arises whether this "functional" boundary is based on an underlying circular anatomical boundary, an important issue for modeling the middle-ear mechanics. In this article, the boundaries of the Mongolian gerbil pars flaccida were visualized in situ with otomicroscopy and in slides with light microscopy and by micro-CT radiology. For the major part of its circumference, the pars flaccida was found to be suspended by rigid bone, that is, the tympanic legs. The remaining boundary is made up of the terminal portion of the handle of the malleus and the soft tissue of the terminal arches. The attachment to these structures is simple and uncomplicated, and the geometry is regular and symmetric: deviating by only 3.5% from a perfect circular shape. The findings justify the use of a fixed circular boundary as a good approximation for the modeling of pars flaccida deformation in the Mongolian gerbil. Anat Rec, 294:987-995, 2011. (C) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.