Tensor tympani muscle

Last revised by Francis Deng on 2 Aug 2021

The tensor tympani muscle is a short muscle in the middle ear that arises from the superior surface of the cartilaginous part of the Eustachian tube, the greater wing of the sphenoid, and the petrous part of the temporal bone. It passes into the protympanum of the tympanic cavity, covered by the semicanal for the tensor tympani. The muscle reflects at the cochleariform procress and then inserts into the upper end of the handle of the malleus. It acts to pull down the handle medially, which in turn tenses the tympanic membrane and therefore reduces the amplitude of its oscillations. This prevents damage to the inner ear from loud sounds. It has no opposing antagonist and elastic recoil restores the status quo as the muscle relaxes.


It is supplied by the nerve to medial pterygoid, a branch of the mandibular nerve (CNV3), whose cell bodies lie in the motor nucleus of the trigeminal nerve in the pons.

Related pathology

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Cases and figures

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