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Ann Anat. 2001 Jan;183(1):61-6.

Development of the membranous labyrinth of human embryos and fetuses using computer aided 3D-reconstruction.

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Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Dental Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany.


The last detailed description of the development of the inner ear membranous labyrinth goes back to Streeter in 1918. This investigation can be regarded to be of outstanding scientific value. However, at that time no staging system of human embryos existed. In this respect, Streeter's work is outdated. It was the aim of this study to reinvestigate the development of the membranous labyrinth in human embryos and fetuses of which the developmental stages have been determined according to the Carnegie staging system and to compare the results with the literature. Serial histologic sections in the coronal or frontal plane of the heads of human embryos and fetuses of different developmental stages were used for computer aided 3D-reconstruction of the membranous labyrinth. From the obtained results, it is concluded that the endolymphatic duct develops earlier than previously described in the literature. The induction of the differentiation of the endolymphatic duct does not correspond with the superficial ectoderm because the endolymphatic duct develops medial of the otic vesicle. The membranous labyrinth determines the form of the petrosal bone as early as in stage 19 (47-48 days post conception).

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