Otosclerosis under microCT: New insights into the disease and its anatomy

O'Toole Bom Braga, Gabriela; Zboray, Robert; Parrilli, Annapaola; Bulatovic, Milica; Caversaccio, Marco; Wagner, Franca (2022). Otosclerosis under microCT: New insights into the disease and its anatomy. Frontiers in radiology, 2 Frontiers Media 10.3389/fradi.2022.965474

fradi-02-965474.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (4MB) | Preview

Purpose: Otospongiotic plaques can be seen on conventional computed tomography (CT) as focal lesions around the cochlea. However, the resolution remains insufficient to enable evaluation of intracochlear damage. MicroCT technology provides resolution at the single micron level, offering an exceptional amplified view of the otosclerotic cochlea. In this study, a non-decalcified otosclerotic cochlea was analyzed and reconstructed in three dimensions for the first time, using microCT technology. The pre-clinical relevance of this study is the demonstration of extensive pro-inflammatory buildup inside the cochlea which cannot be seen with conventional cone-beam CT (CBCT) investigation.

Materials and Methods: A radiological and a three-dimensional (3D) anatomical study of an otosclerotic cochlea using microCT technology is presented here for the first time. 3D-segmentation of the human cochlea was performed, providing an unprecedented view of the diseased area without the need for decalcification, sectioning, or staining.

Results: Using microCT at single micron resolution and geometric reconstructions, it was possible to visualize the disease's effects. These included intensive tissue remodeling and highly vascularized areas with dilated capillaries around the spongiotic foci seen on the pericochlear bone. The cochlea's architecture as a morphological correlate of the otosclerosis was also seen. With a sagittal cut of the 3D mesh, it was possible to visualize intense ossification of the cochlear apex, as well as the internal auditory canal, the modiolus, the spiral ligament, and a large cochleolith over the osseous spiral lamina. In addition, the oval and round windows showed intense fibrotic tissue formation and spongiotic bone with increased vascularization. Given the recently described importance of the osseous spiral lamina in hearing mechanics and that, clinically, one of the signs of otosclerosis is the Carhart notch observed on the audiogram, a tonotopic map using the osseous spiral lamina as region of interest is presented. An additional quantitative study of the porosity and width of the osseous spiral lamina is reported.

Conclusion: In this study, structural anatomical alterations of the otosclerotic cochlea were visualized in 3D for the first time. MicroCT suggested that even though the disease may not appear to be advanced in standard clinical CT scans, intense tissue remodeling is already ongoing inside the cochlea. That knowledge will have a great impact on further treatment of patients presenting with sensorineural hearing loss.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders (ENT)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Image Guided Therapy

UniBE Contributor:

O'Toole Bom Braga, Gabriela, Bulatovic, Milica, Caversaccio, Marco, Wagner, Franca


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Frontiers Media




Milica Bulatovic

Date Deposited:

16 Dec 2022 14:42

Last Modified:

16 Dec 2022 18:38

Publisher DOI:






Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback