What is the role of membrane rupture in the pathophysiology of sudden hearing loss?

Updated: Aug 28, 2019
  • Author: Neeraj N Mathur, MBBS, MS, DNB(ENT), MNAMS, FAMS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Thin membranes separate the inner ear from the middle ear, and within the cochlea, delicate membranes separate the perilymphatic and endolymphatic spaces. Rupture of either or both sets of membranes theoretically could produce a sensory hearing loss. A leak of perilymph fluid into the middle ear via the round window or oval window has been postulated to produce hearing loss by creating a state of relative endolymphatic hydrops or by producing intracochlear membrane breaks. Rupture of intracochlear membranes would allow mixing of perilymph and endolymph, effectively altering the endocochlear potential. The theory of intracochlear membrane rupture was favored by Simmons and Goodhill, and histologic evidence has been documented by Gussen. [4, 5, 6]

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