Scanning Electron Microscopy


Surface pathology of inner ear structures so far described in detail concern cochlear and vestibular hair cells and the stria vascularis. In man, surgical intervention into the inner ear is very uncommon and when performed is in general with the primary objective of destroying the diseased peripheral end organs. The vast majority of inner ear tissue available for use with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is therefore obtained from animals.

The present paper reviews the progression of surface pathology caused by aminoglycoside antibiotics, acoustic overstimulation and in a guinea pig strain with genetic inner ear disease. The primary site of onset of surface pathology differs, depending on the underlying cause. Advanced surface pathology shows a similar type of morphological degeneration independent of cause. The combination of SEM and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (XRMA) of inner ear pathology has as yet been reported in only three studies, all concerning inner ear fluids or otoconia.

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