Optical absorbance of the tympanic membrane in rat and human samples.
Chronic infections are often connected to biofilm formation. In presence of implants, this can lead to loss of the implant. Systemic or local application of drugs is relatively ineffective in case of biofilm formation. One technique to provide antibacterial properties on demand is the antibacterial photodynamic therapy (aPDT). Using this technique, these properties can be "switched on" by light illumination. In the middle ear with the semitransparent tympanic membrane, it might be possible in future to activate the antibacterial effect without opening the membrane. Therefore, we investigated the optical absorbance spectra of the tympanic membrane. Optical absorbance spectra were measured in ex vivo preparations from neonatal and adult rats with the membrane still being attached to the surrounding bony ring and four human samples. After performing area scans, the spot with the lowest absorbance being surrounded by a ring like structure with higher absorbance was chosen as region of interest for scanning wavelengths between 300 and 900 nm. Absorbance is generally higher at lower wavelengths with a local absorbance maximum at 420 nm and a weak second maximum with two neighbouring peaks at 540 / 580 nm and is significantly higher in adult rats compared to neonatal rats where about 10% of light was transmitted. The human samples show similar characteristics with a little higher absorbance. For activation of aPDT through the tympanic membrane, larger wavelengths are more promising. Whether the amount of light transmitted through the membrane would be sufficient to induce aPDT remains to be tested in further experiments.