Stapes (ossicle of ear)

Author: Dr Peter de Souza
Last modified: 13 December 2020

Stapes (ossicle of ear)

The ossicles of the ear are tiny little bones that are located in the middle ear. They are the smallest bone in the human body (the word itself actually means “little bone”) and their purpose is to transmit sound vibrations from the eardrum (tympanic membrane), to the complex inner ear structures, ultimately leading to the perception of sound.

There are a series of three ossicles in the ear:

  • malleus
  • incus
  • stapes.

The malleus is attached to the tympanic membrane and articulates with the incus, which in turn articulates with the stapes. The stapes, attaches to the membrane of the oval window connecting the middle ear to the inner ear. Through this series of bones, the vibrations are transmitted from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear.

The stapes is a stirrup-shaped bone (it gets its name from the Latin Stapes which means stirrup), and is the smallest and lightest bone in the human body.

The stapes consists of the following components:

  • Base
  • Anterior crus
  • Posterior crus
  • Head
  • Neck

The base of the stapes is connected to the oval window via the annular ligament. The head of the stapes articulates with the incus via the incudostapedial joint.