Ménière's disease is manifested in sudden onset of severe dizziness (vertigo) attacks, hearing impairment and tinnitus. Accumulation of excess fluid in the inner ear is thought to cause the disorder, from which approximately an estimated 30,000 people in Sweden suffer.
The researchers behind the new scientific article have investigated the organs in the human inner ear, which are very difficult to study. This part of the ear is enclosed by the body’s hardest bone. Using synchrotron X-ray imaging, an advanced and powerful form of computer tomography (CT), the scientists were able to study the organ of balance with its surrounding blood vessels. Since the technology generates energy too high for use on living humans, donors’ temporal bones were used.
The images of the inner ear were reconstructed to make a three-dimensional model in the software, Inside the hard bone, the researchers discovered a drainage system that is thought to explain how the fluid in the inner ear is absorbed. This discovery may bring about an improved understanding of how and why Ménière's disease arises.
Source: Uppsala University