Progression of changes in the sensorial elements of the cochlear and peripheral vestibular systems: The otitis media continuum

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Our study aimed to evaluate pathologic changes in the cochlear (inner and outer hair cells and stria vascularis) and vestibular (vestibular hair cells, dark, and transitional cells) sensorial elements in temporal bones from donors who had otitis media. We studied 40 temporal bones from such donors, which were categorized in serous otitis media (SOM), serous-purulent otitis media (SPOM), mucoid/mucoid-purulent otitis media (MOM/MPOM), and chronic otitis media (COM); control group comprised 10 nondiseased temporal bones. We found significant loss of inner and outer cochlear hair cells in the basal turn of the SPOM, MOM/MPOM and COM groups; significant loss of vestibular hair cells was observed in the MOM/MPOM and COM groups. All otitis media groups had smaller mean area of the stria vascularis in the basal turn of the cochlea when compared to controls. In conclusion, our study demonstrated more severe pathologic changes in the later stages of the continuum of otitis media (MOM/MPOM and COM). Those changes seem to progress from the basal turn of the cochlea (stria vascularis, then inner and outer hair cells) to the middle turn of the cochlea and to the saccule and utricle in the MOM/MPOM and COM stages.HighlightsCochlear changes preceded vestibular changes in the otitis media groups.The basal turn of the cochlea was the most affected area of the inner ear.Cochlear outer hair cells were more affected by otitis media than inner hair cells.Strial intermediate cells are more affected by otitis media than marginal cells.Vestibule and apical turn of the cochlea were affected in later stages of the continuum.

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