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Laryngoscope. 1992 Sep;102(9):988-92.

Free-floating endolymph particles: a new operative finding during posterior semicircular canal occlusion.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Most clinicians accept cupulolithiasis as the pathophysiological mechanism underlying benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV.) According to this theory, a cupular deposit induces a gravitational effect on the posterior canal crista. Posterior semicircular canal occlusion is a new operative procedure for treating incapacitating BPPV. It is postulated that canal occlusion abolishes endolymph movement within the canal, effectively fixing the cupula and rendering it unresponsive to both angular and linear acceleration (gravity). During two recent canal occlusions, abundant "free-floating particles" were identified within the posterior canal endolymph. When changing the position of the canal in the earth vertical plane, these free-floating particles would move under the influence of gravity. The hydrodynamic drag of the particles would induce endolymph movement with cupular displacement leading to the typical response. This finding supports an alternate explanation to cupulolithiasis as the pathophysiological mechanism underlying BPPV.

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