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The Inner Ear


The inner ear can be thought of as two organs:
the semicircular canals which serve as the body's balance organ the cochlea which serves as the body's microphone, converting sound pressure impulses from the outer ear into electrical impulses which are passed on to the brain via the auditory nerve.

The inner ear contains the organs of both hearing and of equilibrium.
It consists of two parts: osseous (bony) labyrinth membraneous labyrinth (contained within the osseous labyrinth and made up of interconnected sacs and tubes)

The space between the two is filled w/perilymph, a fluid secreted by the cells lining the bony canals.
The tubular chambers of the membraneous labyrinth are filled w/a second fluid, known as the endolymph. These fluids provide the media for vibrations involved in hearing and the maintenance of equilibrium.

Osseous Labyrinth
The osseous or bony labyrinth consists of three structural and functional divisions: Vestibule

Semicircular canals
Cochlea

Osseus Labyrinth

Osseus Labyrinth

Membranous Labyrinth

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The Vestibule
The vestibule is the central part of the bony labyrinth. Its lateral wall contains the oval window shown as the bean shaped white blotch between the utricle and saccule. The membraneous labyrinth within the vestibule consists of two interconnected sacs called the utricle and the saccule. The utricle is the larger of the two. Both contain receptors which are sensitive to gravity and linear movements of the head.
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The Utricle
The utricle like the rest of the membraneous labyrinth is filled w/endolymph.

It consists of connective tissue and epithelium.


It has five openings for the semicircular canals and the duct connecting it to the saccule. The sense organ of the utricle is called macula utriculi. It is an oval thickened area in which fibres of the vestibular branch of the acoustic nerve terminate. It is covered with hair cells which respond to movement of the endolymph

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The three bony semicircular canals are oriented at right

angles to each other and are positioned posteriorly


(dorsally) to the vestibule. Superior Semicircular Canal Posterior Semicircular Canal Lateral Semicircular Canal

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Each has an ampulla ( dilation) which connects to the vestibule. Within the semicircular canals are the semicircular ducts which are part of the membraneous labyrinth. They conform in shape to the bony semicircular canals. Receptors inside the semicircular ducts are sensitive to angular acceleration and deceleration of the head as in rotational movement. These receptors are located in the ampullae and are called cristae ampullaris.

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The Saccule
The saccule has openings into the endolymphatic duct and the cochlear duct.
Its sense organ in the macula sacculi

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Hair cells in the crista ampullaris (in the base of each semi circular canal) sense movements of the head. The cupula remnannts seen as pink layer layer over crista bends hair cells stereocilia w/movements of endolymph in the canal 20

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The Semicircular Canals


The semicircular canals are the body's balance organs, detecting acceleration in the three perpendicular planes. These accelerometers make use of hair cells similar to those on the organ of Corti, but these hair cells detect movements of the fluid in the canals caused by angular acceleration about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the canal. Tiny floating particles aid the process of stimulating the hair cells as they move with the fluid. The canals are connected to the auditory nerve.
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The Cochlea
The cochlea is shaped like a snail shell

It winds two and three quarters turns around a central bony axis, the modiolus.
Projecting outward from the modiolus is a thin bony plate the spiral lamina partially divides the cochlear canal into an upper passageway called the scala vestibuli which originates at the oval window and is continuous with the vestibule and a lower one called the scala tympani which terminates at the round window.
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This sections through the modiolus shows three and a half turns of the cochlea resulting in seven separate cross sections. Nerves from each converge in the core to form the auditory nerve. 29

The Cochlea
Both of these are filled with perilymph and are separate except at the very narrow apex of the cochlea an area called the helicotrema. In between these canals there is the triangular passage way called the cochlear duct. The roof of the cochlear duct is called the vestibular membrane while its floor is called the basilar membrane.

The cochlear duct is filled with endolymph and terminates at the helicotrema.
It contains the Organ of Corti.
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Cochlea in Temporal Bone

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The Cochlea
Section of Cochlea

The cochlea has three fluid filled sections. The perilymph fluid in the canals differs from the endolymph fluid in the cochlear duct. The organ of Corti is the sensor of pressure variations.

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Each cross section contain three chambers : Scala vestibuli Scala media Scala tympani The auditory nerve (arrow) is also visible
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The Organ of Corti


The Organ of Corti contains the sound receptors that transduce mechanical vibrations into nerve impulses. It is the functional unit of hearing.

The epithelium of the organ of Corti consists of supporting cells and hair cells.
The bases of the latter are anchored in the basilar membrane while their tips are embedded in tectorial membrane
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This is the basic hearing units find in the vestibular membrane (black), tectorial membrane (blue) and the basilar membrane (green)
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The Fluid Filled Cochlea

The pressure changes in the cochlea caused by sound entering the ear travel down the fluid filled tympanic and vestibular canals which are filled with a fluid called perilymph. This perilymph is almost identical to spinal fluid and differs significantly from the endolymph which fills the cochlear duct and surrounds the sensitive organ of Corti. The fluids differ in terms of their electrolytes and if the membranes are ruptured so that there is mixing of the fluids, the hearing is 42 impaired.

ENDOLYMPHATIC AND PERILYMPHATIC SPACES


Perilymph similar w/ CSF scala vestibuli & scala tympani potassium ions sodium ions Endolymph scala media potassium ions
calcium ions

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The lateral boundary of endolymphatic space

Stria vascularis

The superior boundary of endolymphatic space

Reissners membrane

Tight junction between adjacent cells in the boundary tissue limit diffusion of ions between the endolymphatic and perilymphatic compartement. The ionioc composition of the endolymph in the scala media gives rise to To an electrical potential called endolymphatic potential.

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NERVES OF THE INNER EAR


The nerve of the inner ear is the vestibulocochlear nerve It consist of two divisions: The vestibular division vestibular ganglion Superior vestibular n.
ampullae of anterior S.C. ampullae of Lateral S.C Macullae of utricle Macullae of sacullae

Inferior vestibular n.
ampullae of posterior S.C. Macullae of sacullae

The cochlear division (arise from spiral ganglion)


Organ of corti Bundle of Oort
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NERVES OF THE INNER EAR

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VASCULAR SUPPLY OF THE INNER EAR

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VASCULAR SUPPLY OF THE INNER EAR

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VASCULAR SUPPLY OF THE INNER EAR

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REFERENCES
Hollinshead, W.H. 1974. The Internal Ear in: Anatomy for Surgeons: volume I The Head and Neck. Hoeber-Harper Int ed. New York. USA, 200-223. Williams, Warwick, Dyson, Bannister. 1992. The Internal Ear in: Grays Anatomy. 37th ed. Churchill Livingstone. UK,1229-1243 M.V. Goycolea.1989. Atlas of Otologic Surgery. W.B.Sunders Co.Philadelphia,17-22 G.J.Tortora, R.Grabowski. 1996. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. Eight Edition. Harper Collins.New York, 474-481. M.M.Paparella, D.A.Shumrick.1980. Otolaryngology. Second Edition. Volume I. W. B. Saunders. Pholadelphia, 42-61. http://www.sfu.ca/~saunders/l33098/Ear.f/midear.html http://www.sfu.ca/~saunders/l33098/Ear.f/corti.html http://www.sfu.ca/~saunders/l33098/Ear.f/inear.html oto.wustl.edu/cochlea/intro1.htm www.sfu.ca/~saunders/l33098/Ear.f/inear.html hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/sound/eari.html

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