Non-invasive measurements of intralabyrinthine pressure changes by electrocochleography and otoacoustic emissions
By varying the mechanical load on the stapes footplate, intralabyrinthine pressure (ILP) influences the stiffness of the middle ear and modifies its transfer function. This results in a characteristic phase shift of the otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) around 1 kHz [Buki, B., Avan, P., Lemaire, J.J., Dordain, M., Chazal, J., Ribari, O., 1996. Otoacoustic emissions: a new tool for monitoring intracranial pressure changes through stapes displacements. Hear. Res. 94, 125–139]. This finding provides non-invasive means of monitoring changes of ILP and indirectly of intracranial pressure. Yet the vulnerability of OAEs to sensorineural hearing loss excludes many patients from being monitored in this manner. Being dependent on the middle-ear transfer function, the phase of the cochlear microphonic potential (CM) around 1 kHz should also respond to ILP changes while being less affected by impaired hearing than OAEs. Here, normal volunteers were subjected to body tilt resulting in stepwise changes in their intracranial pressure and ILP. Their CM around 1 kHz was recorded by extratympanic electrocochleography and its dependence on body position was compared to that of distortion-product OAEs. The posture-induced CM changes were also monitored in ears with sensorineural deafness and impaired OAEs to assess the usefulness of CM in the presence of hearing impairment. Last, OAEs and CM were simultaneously monitored in gerbils during intracranial pressure changes brought about via an intracranial catheter. The phase and level shifts induced by body tilt in man and intracranial pressure changes in gerbils showed up both in distortion-product OAEs and CM with similar time courses. In normally-hearing subjects, the mean phase shifts reached 16.3° for CM and 41.6° for OAEs, and CM remained large enough in hearing-impaired subjects for ILP to be monitored. The ratio of about two of OAEs to CM phase shifts matched the prediction of middle-ear models allowing for the fact that CM does not travel back through the middle ear while OAEs do. It follows that CM phase around 1 kHz provides non-invasive access to ILP changes even if OAEs cannot be measured due to sensorineural hearing loss.
from Hearing Research