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Evaluation of the relevance of eardrum mechanoreceptors to the Eustachian tube pressure compensation function using pressure chamber measurements
18 April 2018 (online)
Preliminary studies in animals and humans indicated that there is a reflex arc between pressure receptors in the eardrum and middle ear mucosa and the muscles (M. veli palatini) of the Eustachian tube (ET). When increasing the pressure and stretching the eardrum, it should come to an opening of the tube. The relevance of this reflex arc in humans is unclear.
In a hypo- and hyperbaric pressure chamber, 17 subjects (34 ears) were exposed twice to a standardized pressure profile of pressure drop and increase. The function of the Eustachian tube was determined and analyzed as the parameters ET opening pressure (ETOP), ET opening duration (ETOD) and ET opening frequency (ETOF). The first measurement was made before anesthesia of the right eardrum, the second measurement after local anesthesia of the right eardrum.
There was no significant difference between the mean values of TOD, TOE, and TOR before and after local anesthesia of the right eardrum, both in the pressure rise (actively induced pressure equalization) and in the pressure drop (passive pressure equalization). Likewise, there were no significant differences in the parameters with respect to the side during the first and second measurements.
These results lead to the hypothesis that eardrum mechanoreceptors play a subordinate role in regulating tube opening function of the Eustachian tube in humans.