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Otol Neurotol. 2006 Feb;27(2):144-52.

In vivo imaging of mammalian cochlear blood flow using fluorescence microendoscopy.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.

Abstract

AIMS:

We sought to develop techniques for visualizing cochlear blood flow in live mammalian subjects using fluorescence microendoscopy.

BACKGROUND:

Inner ear microcirculation appears to be intimately involved in cochlear function. Blood velocity measurements suggest that intense sounds can alter cochlear blood flow. Disruption of cochlear blood flow may be a significant cause of hearing impairment, including sudden sensorineural hearing loss. However, inability to image cochlear blood flow in a nondestructive manner has limited investigation of the role of inner ear microcirculation in hearing function. Present techniques for imaging cochlear microcirculation using intravital light microscopy involve extensive perturbations to cochlear structure, precluding application in human patients. The few previous endoscopy studies of the cochlea have suffered from optical resolution insufficient for visualizing cochlear microvasculature. Fluorescence microendoscopy is an emerging minimally invasive imaging modality that provides micron-scale resolution in tissues inaccessible to light microscopy. In this article, we describe the use of fluorescence microendoscopy in live guinea pigs to image capillary blood flow and movements of individual red blood cells within the basal turn of the cochlea.

METHODS:

We anesthetized eight adult guinea pigs and accessed the inner ear through the mastoid bulla. After intravenous injection of fluorescein dye, we made a limited cochleostomy and introduced a compound doublet gradient refractive index endoscope probe 1 mm in diameter into the inner ear. We then imaged cochlear blood flow within individual vessels in an epifluorescence configuration using one-photon fluorescence microendoscopy.

RESULTS:

We observed single red blood cells passing through individual capillaries in several cochlear structures, including the round window membrane, spiral ligament, osseous spiral lamina, and basilar membrane. Blood flow velocities within inner ear capillaries varied widely, with observed speeds reaching up to approximately 500 microm/s.

CONCLUSION:

Fluorescence microendoscopy permits visualization of cochlear microcirculation with micron-scale optical resolution and determination of blood flow velocities through analysis of video sequences.

PMID:
16436982
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2820368
Free PMC Article
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