HYPOTHESIS: Pathologic changes around the vein of the vestibular aqueduct (VVA) may cause obstruction to the flow of blood toward the sigmoid sinus. Furthermore, a distal obstruction of this vessel may be responsible for a development of a retrograde flow of blood with concomitant drainage of endolymphatic sac (ES) substances to the inner ear. BACKGROUND: The VVA is responsible for the venous drainage of the vestibular apparatus and endolymphatic duct and ES. Previous studies have linked the VVA to Ménière's disease. The aim of the present article was a 3-dimensional perspective study of the VVA with its adjacent anatomic structures. METHODS: In 14 rats, the VVA was examined by 3-dimensional reconstruction of 2-microm serial sections, corrosion cast technique, and scanning electron microscopy. RESULTS: From the external aperture of the vestibular aqueduct, the VVA is interposed between the ES and the operculum. Three to 4 collecting venules from the ES drain into the VVA. The VVA merges at an oblique angle with the sigmoid sinus. CONCLUSION: The VVA courses near the ES, operculum, and sigmoid sinus and is potentially vulnerable to expanding structures in the cranial posterior fossa. The possible role of the VVA for the function of the ES under normal and pathologic conditions is discussed.
Keywords: Animals; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Male; Microscopy, Electron, Scanning; Rats; Rats, Wistar; Regional Blood Flow; Tissue Fixation; Veins; Venules; Vestibular Aqueduct