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Hear Res. 1988 May;33(2):191-200.

In vivo capillary diameters in the stria vascularis and spiral ligament of the guinea pig cochlea.

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Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0506.


Blood microvessels in the membraneous lateral wall of the cochlea were examined using intravital microscopic techniques. A video analysis system made serial diameter measurements at 1 micron intervals along the length of selected vessel segments during four experimental conditions. For each vessel segment, the serial measurements were statistically converted into a single diameter estimate, such that the flow resistance in a uniform vessel of this diameter would equal the resistance of the real non-uniform vessel. Nominal vessel diameters found (spiral ligament: 9-12 micron; stria vascularis: 12-16 micron) were nearly double those reported earlier in histological observations (Axelsson, 1968). During stimulation the largest diameter change seen was a 3.7% dilation (about 0.5 micron) in response to breathing 5% CO2 in oxygen. Theoretically, this change could reduce vascular fluid resistance by 16%, nearly enough to explain the observed flow increase of 20%. No diameter changes occurred for 5% CO2 in air despite a 50% flow increase, nor for air pressure pulses applied at the tympanic membrane. Round window electrical stimulation of 50 microA also produced dilation (less than 2.5%), but higher current levels were ineffective. In general, blood flow increases seen in this study could not adequately be attributed to the small lateral wall vessel diameter increases nor systemic causes, suggesting that lateral wall blood flow in these instances is dependent on control within the modiolus.

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