A New Theory for Ménière’s Disease: Detached Saccular Otoconia

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Abstract

Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder characterized by vertigo attacks, fluctuating and progressive hearing loss, tinnitus, and aural fullness in the affected ear. The pathophysiology of Ménière’s disease remains elusive. Theories so far are anatomical variation in the size or position of the endolymphatic sac and duct, viral inflammation or autoimmune involvement of the sac, or a genetically determined abnormality of endolymph control. Animal studies on blocking the ductus reuniens and endolymphatic duct have produced hydrops in the cochlea, saccule, and utricle. Cone beam computed tomography images show a similar pattern with apparent obstruction of the ductus reuniens, saccular duct, and endolymphatic sinus. New studies documenting the age of onset of Ménière’s disease show a pattern similar to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, raising the possibility that the fundamental cause of Ménière’s disease might be detached saccular otoconia.

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