Research on Hearing and Balance -- Temporal Bone Registry

Timothy C. Hain, MD

Those with hearing and balance disorders know that many extremely troublesome conditions go undiagnosed. A very important basic activity is to correlate the findings on autopsy in the inner ear with clinical symptoms.

To this end, there is a nationally supported network of laboratories throughout the country. For patients who have well characterized ear conditions and who indicate a willingness to have their inner ears harvested at the time of death, a system has been set up to collect and process the temporal bones.

Unfotrunately, the infrastructure to gather temporal bones in the USA is suboptimal. We ourselves have had situations where a patient indicated a willingness to have their temporal bone "harvested" but a "harvester" -- an otologic surgeon -- was not available. Once this happens, one loses one's enthusiasm in encouraging patients to be generous.

Nevertheless, the national temporal bone registry website is at We fully support this effort and encourage our patients to consider temporal bone donation.

A pamphlet about this, That others may hear, can be obtained from the NIDCD National Temporal Bone Registry, Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St, Boston MA 02114-3096. 800-822-1237