Pressure gradients affecting the labyrinth during hypobaric pressure. Experimental study.
Hypobaric effects on the perilymph pressure were investigated in 18 cats. The perilymph, tympanic cavity, cerebrospinal fluid, and systemic and ambient pressure changes were continuously recorded relative to the atmospheric pressure. The pressure equilibration of the eustachian tube and the cochlear aqueduct was studied, as well as the effects of blocking these channels. During ascent, the physiologic opening of the eustachian tube reduced the pressure gradients across the tympanic membrane. The patent cochlear aqueduct equilibrated perilymph pressure to cerebrospinal fluid compartment levels with a considerable pressure gradient across the oval and round windows. With the aqueduct blocked, the pressure decrease within the labyrinth and tympanic cavities was limited, resulting in large pressure gradients toward the chamber and the cerebrospinal fluid compartments, respectively. We conclude that closed cavities with limited pressure release capacities are the cause of the pressure gradients. The strain exerted by these pressure gradients is potentially harmful to the ear.
Konrádsson, KS; Carlborg, BI; Farmer, JC
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