Micro-channels in the mastoid anatomy : indications of a separate blood supply of the air cell system mucosa by micro-CT scanning
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Hearing research. - Amsterdam
, p. 60-65
University of Antwerp
The mastoid air cell system has traditionally been considered to have a passive role in gas exchange and pressure regulation of the middle ear possibly with some acoustic function. However, more evidence has focused on the mucosa of the mastoid, which may play a more active role in regulation of middle ear pressure. In this study we have applied micro-CT scanning on a series of three human temporal bones. This approach greatly enhances the resolution (40-60 mu m), so that we have discovered anatomical details, which has not been reported earlier. Thus, qualitative analysis using volume rendering has demonstrated notable micro-channels connecting the surface of the compact bone directly to the mastoid air cells as well as forming a network of connections between the air cells. Quantitative analysis on 2D slices was employed to determine the average diameter of these micro-channels (158 mu m; range = 40-440 mu m) as well as their density at a localized area (average = 75 cm(-2); range = 64-97 cm(-2)). These channels are hypothesized to contain a separate vascular supply for the mastoid mucosa. However, future studies of the histological structure of the micro-channels are warranted to confirm the hypothesis. Studies on the mastoid mucosa and its blood supply may improve our knowledge of its physiological properties, which may have important implications for our understanding of the pressure regulation of the middle ear. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "MEMRO 2012". (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.