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Otopathology in the United States

History, Current Situation, and Future Perspectives

Monsanto, Rafael da Costa*,†; Pauna, Henrique Furlan*,‡; Paparella, Michael M.*,§; Cureoglu, Sebahattin*

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001942

Human temporal bone studies have documented the pathophysiologic basis of many pathologic conditions and diseases affecting the ear, contributing to the development of specific clinical knowledge and pathology-oriented treatments. Researchers dedicated to the study of anatomy and histology of the temporal bone emanated from Europe to the United States during the first part of the 20th Century. The first otopathology laboratory was founded in the United States in 1924, at Johns Hopkins University; over time, the otopathology laboratories—considered by some authors as “gold mines” for studying ear diseases—became numerous and very prolific. However, today, only three of the temporal bone laboratories are still running and producing scientific knowledge to the Otology/Neurotology field: the ones at Harvard Medical School, University of Minnesota, and University of California. Molecular biologic assay techniques and new microscopy and computer equipment broadened the possibilities for temporal bone studies; however, the current funding for those laboratories are insufficient to cover the costs for processing and studying human temporal bones. The main objective of this study is to briefly describe the history, current situation, and future perspectives of the otopathology laboratories in the United States.

*Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Minnesota

Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Universidade Federal de São Paulo / Escola Paulista de Medicina (UNIFESP/EPM), São Paulo

Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Campinas – UNICAMP, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

§Paparella Ear Head & Neck Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Rafael da Costa Monsanto, M.D., Otopathology Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Minnesota, 2001 6th St. SE, Lions Research Building, Room 210, Minneapolis, MN 55455; E-mail:

Source of Funding: This project was funded by NIH NIDCD U24 DC011968, International Hearing Foundation, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Lions 5M International, Coordenadoria de Aperfeiçoamento Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq).

Financial disclosures: None.

The authors disclose no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2018 by Otology & Neurotology, Inc. Image copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health/Anatomical Chart Company