Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol.  2016 Jun;9(2):109-115. 10.21053/ceo.2014.02012.

The Age-Related Orientational Changes of Human Semicircular Canals

  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Eye and ENT Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
  • 2Research Center, Eye and ENT Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
  • 3Key Laboratory of Hearing Medicine, National Ministry of Public Health, Shanghai, China.


Some changes are found in the labyrinth anatomy during postnatal development. Although the spatial orientation of semicircular canals was thought to be stable after birth, we investigated the age-related orientational changes of human semicircular canals during development.
We retrospectively studied the computed tomography (CT) images of both ears of 76 subjects ranged from 1 to 70 years old. They were divided into 4 groups: group A (1-6 years), group B (7-12 years), group C (13-18 years), and group D (>18 years). The anatomical landmarks of the inner ear structures were determined from CT images. Their coordinates were imported into MATLAB software for calculating the semicircular canals orientation, angles between semicircular canal planes and the jugular bulb (JB) position. Differences between age groups were analyzed using multivariate statistics. Relationships between variables were analyzed using Pearson analysis.
The angle between the anterior semicircular canal plane and the coronal plane, and the angle between the horizontal semicircular canal plane and the coronal plane were smaller in group D than those in group A (P<0.05). The JB position, especially the anteroposterior position of right JB, correlated to the semicircular canals orientation (P<0.05). However, no statistically significant differences in the angles between ipsilateral canal planes among different age groups were found.
The semicircular canals had tendencies to tilt anteriorly simultaneously as a whole with age. The JB position correlated to the spatial arrangement of semicircular canals, especially the right JB. Our calculation method helps detect developmental and pathological changes in vestibular anatomy.


Semicircular Canals; Orientation; Anatomy; Tomography, X-Ray Computed; Jugular Bulb

MeSH Terms

Ear, Inner
Retrospective Studies
Semicircular Canals*
Tomography, X-Ray Computed
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