OBJECTIVE: To investigate the pharmacokinetics of gadolinium in the perilymphatic fluid spaces of the cochlea in vivo using high-resolution MRI to obtain information concerning perilymph formation.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A Bruker Biospec Avance 47/40 experimental MRI system with a magnetic field strength of 4.7 T was used. Anesthetized pigmented guinea pigs were injected with the contrast agent Gd-diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid-bismethylamide and placed in the magnet. The signal intensity of Gd in the tissues was used as a biomarker for dynamic changes in the perilymphatic fluid.
RESULTS: The most rapid uptake of Gd in the perilymphatic fluid spaces occurred in the lower part of the modiolus, followed by the second turn of the scala tympani. Within the scala tympani, the distribution of Gd in the basal turn was significantly lower than that in the other turns. Destruction of the cochlear aqueduct was followed by an increase in Gd uptake in the perilymph instead of a reduction.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings offer further evidence that the pervasive perilymphatic fluid derives from the cochlear blood supply via the cochlear glomeruli, which are in close proximity to the scala tympani within the modiolus, and the capillary in the spiral ligament. Cerebrospinal fluid communicates with perilymph via the cochlear aqueduct but is not the main source of perilymph. These findings are of relevance to the treatment of inner ear diseases, as well as to our understanding of the flow and source of perilymphatic fluid.