Table of Contents
ISRN Otolaryngology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 941757, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/941757
Research Article

Attenuating Cardiac Pulsations within the Cochlea: Structure and Function of Tortuous Vessels Feeding Stria Vascularis

1Auditory Science Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology, and Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1X8
2Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A1
3Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5
4Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A1

Received 29 March 2013; Accepted 18 April 2013

Academic Editors: C. Y. Chien and M. Sone

Copyright © 2013 Mattia Carraro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The mammalian ear has an extraordinary capacity to detect very low-level acoustic signals from the environment. Sound pressures as low as a few μPa (−10 dB SPL) can activate cochlear hair cells. To achieve this sensitivity, biological noise has to be minimized including that generated by cardiovascular pulsation. Generally, cardiac pressure changes are transmitted to most peripheral capillary beds; however, such signals within the stria vascularis of the cochlea would be highly disruptive. Not least, it would result in a constant auditory sensation of heartbeat. We investigate special adaptations in cochlear vasculature that serve to attenuate cardiac pulse signals. We describe the structure of tortuous arterioles that feed stria vascularis as seen in corrosion casts of the cochlea. We provide a mathematical model to explain the role of this unique vascular anatomy in dampening pulsatile blood flow to the stria vascularis.