Effect of Cochlear Window Fixation on Air- and Bone-Conduction Thresholds

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In the absence of patent cochlear windows, cochlear fluid inertia depends on the presence of a “third window” as a major component of the bone-conduction response.


Studies have shown conflicting results regarding changes in air and bone conduction whenever, the round window, oval window, or both windows were occluded.


The study was performed in a tertiary university-affiliated medical center. Auditory brain responses to clicks and 1-kHz tone bursts delivered by air and bone conduction were tested in 5 adult-size fat sand rats. The round window membrane (total, 7 ears) was sealed with Super Glue, and auditory brain response testing was repeated. Thereafter, the stapes footplate was firmly fixated, and auditory brain responses were recorded for a third time.


Round-window fixation induced a significant increase in air-conduction thresholds to clicks from 36.4 ± 0.9 to 69.3 ± 4.1 dB SPL, with no significant change in bone-conduction thresholds. When the stapes footplate was immobilized as well, air conduction increased by another 20 dB, on average, with no change in bone conduction. A similar deterioration was seen in response to 1 kHz stimulus.


These findings support and complement earlier studies in the same animal model, suggesting that when the pressure outlet through the cochlear windows are abolished, still bone conduction displaces the cochlear partition probably because of a functioning “third window.”

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