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A preliminary theoretical model of hydrodynamics in the inner ear

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April 1, 2010
by Vivian M. Yu, MD, Paul J. Strykowski, PhD, and Rick M. Odland, MD, PhD


Head movement should create a transient pressure imbalance across the membranous inner ear. We used basic concepts of fluid dynamics to develop a theoretical model of the inner ear. According to this model, two contiguous fluidic systems-the perilymphatic system and the endolymphatic system-are in hydrostatic equilibrium across a compliant membrane. Our model demonstrates that changes in resistance or compliance in one system results in a transient distortion of the membranous inner ear until equilibrium between the two systems is restored. The concept of hydrodynamic pressure changes in the inner ear has received little attention, but it may represent a new approach to understanding the inner ear and treating inner ear diseases.

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