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Hear Res. 2013 Oct;304:70-6. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2013.05.011. Epub 2013 Jun 18.

Changes in utricular function during artificial endolymph injections in guinea pigs.

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  • 1The Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown 2050, Australia. Electronic address:


Various theories suggest endolymphatic hydrops may cause a rupture of the membranous labyrinth or may force open the utriculo-saccular duct, resulting in a sudden change in inner ear function. Here, we have used slow injections of artificial endolymph into either scala media or the utricle of anaesthetised guinea pigs to investigate the effects of hydrops. Vestibular function was continuously monitored in addition to the measurements of cochlear function developed in our laboratory (Brown et al. Hear Res, 2013). Scala media injection induced consistent functional changes, which occurred in two stages. Initial changes involved were associated with an increased hydrostatic pressure in scala media that only affected cochlear function. After 3-4 μl of endolymph had been injected, cochlear function spontaneously recovered, and was often shortly followed by a transient increase or decrease in utricular sensitivity, with the effects varying between animals. Endolymph injection directly into the utricle produced variable effects across animals, although in 2 experiments it produced similar changes as those observed for scala media injections, suggesting that the fluid pathway between scala media and the utricle was continuous in these animals. The mechanism underlying the sudden, spontaneous functional changes is not yet clear, but we tentatively suggest that in some cases it may be caused by the utriculo-saccular duct suddenly opening to alleviate an elevated hydrostatic pressure in the pars inferior, resulting in a change in utricular function due to an increase in its volume. These changes are comparable to the sudden or fluctuating functional changes in Ménière's sufferers, and support the hypothesis that endolymphatic hydrops can directly cause some symptoms of this syndrome.

Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


BCV; CAP; EP; SP; VsEP; bone conducted vibration; compound action potential; endocochlear potential; summating potential; vestibular evoked potential

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