Responses of the endolymphatic sac to perilymphatic injections and withdrawals: Evidence for the presence of a one-way valve

Alec N. Salt, Helge Rask-Andersen

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47 Scopus citations


Although the endolymphatic sac (ES) is thought to be a primary site for endolymph volume regulation, we have limited knowledge of how it responds to volume and pressure changes. In a prior publication, we demonstrated changes of K+, Na+ and endolymphatic sac potential (ESP) resulting from volume injections into, and withdrawals from, scala media of the cochlea. In the present study, we compared the influence of injections into and withdrawals from scala tympani of the cochlea on the endolymphatic sac. It is assumed that similar pressure changes are induced in endolymph and perilymph of both the cochlear and vestibular compartments of the ear. Pressure changes induced by the perilymphatic injections and withdrawals did not induce similar K+ changes in the ES. The majority of perilymph withdrawals caused K+ and ESP reductions in the sac, but few injections caused any measurable changes in the sac. Pressure measurements from the ES demonstrated that transmission of labyrinthine pressures to the lumen was directionally sensitive, with negative pressure transmitted more effectively than positive. In other experiments, application of infrasonic stimulation to the ear canal resulted in K+ increase in the ES. These physiological measurements suggest that the endolymphatic duct may be closed by sustained positive pressure in the vestibule but open during pressure fluctuations. Study of the anatomy where the endolymphatic duct enters the vestibule suggests that the membranous sinus of the endolymphatic duct could act as a mechanical valve, limiting the flow of endolymph from the saccule to the endolymphatic sac when pressure is applied. This structure could therefore play an important role in endolymph volume regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalHearing research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 2004


  • CSF, Cerebrospinal fluid
  • ES, Endolymphatic sac
  • ESP, Endolymphatic sac potential
  • Endolymphatic hydrops
  • Endolymphatic sinus
  • Meniere's disease
  • Saccule


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