Pathology of neuroepithelial suprastructures of the human inner ear

Lars Göran Johnsson, Roland C. Rouse, Charles G. Wright, Pamela J. Henry, Joseph E. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Neuroepithelial suprastructures in abnormal human inner ears were studied by light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and x-ray diffraction. The most common abnormality was calcification, which selectively affected the gelatinous membranes (otoconial, cupular, and tectorial) and the secretory tissues (stria vascularis and utricular dark cells). The structures most frequently affected were the otoconial membranes. The minerals involved were apatite, octacalcium phosphate, and vaterite, replacing the normal layer of calcium carbonate in the form of calcite crystals. The first two of these substances were sometimes mixed with calcite. In the saccule such abnormal otoconial deposits were usually associated with a collapsed saccular wall. Formation of abnormal otoconia is characterized as primary (no pre-existing normal calcite otoconia) or secondary (formed after the destruction of normal otoconia). Such deposits probably depend upon an abnormal composition of the endolymph, especially upon an elevated concentration of phosphate ions. It is inferred that a normal endolymphatic microhomeostasis is necessary to maintain the functional state of the neuroepithelial suprastructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-90
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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