Cochlear blood flow and microvascular resistance changes in response to hypertonic glycerol, urea, and mannitol infusions

David L. Baldwin, Josef M. Miller, K. Agnetha Ohlsén, Alfred L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The effect of hyperosmotic agents on cochlear blood flow (CBF) was tested in normal guinea pigs and in guinea pigs having prior unilateral operations to ablate the endolymphatic duct. Laser-Doppler-measured CBF was normalized to remove apparent changes related directly to systemic blood pressure. Hyperosmotic fluids were given via venous infusion: glycerol (20% and 40% solutions), urea (10%, 30%, and 40% solutions), and mannitol (40% solution). All agents were dissolved in 0.9% saline and the mixtures were given at a rate of 0.3 to 0.6 mL/min for 5 minutes. Control infusions were of 0.9% saline and isotonic dextran 70 (Pharmacia). All hyperosmotic infusions resulted in similar increases in normalized cochlear blood flow (nCBF) that extended to a maximum of 300 % of the baseline value in a dose-dependent way during the infusion time period. Within approximately 30 minutes following infusions, nCBF had returned to baseline levels. Saline infusion alone had little effect on nCBF, but isotonic dextran 70 gave a sustained increase to 122% of the baseline levels. There was no difference between the responses of nCBF in hydropic and normal cochleas for either control or hyperosmotic solutions. Measurements of systemic hematocrit at time intervals during and following the infusions showed that transient reductions of up to approximately 8% (for the maximum osmotic challenge) occurred during the infusion. It is concluded that the hyperosmotic treatments tested here are equally effective for short-term enhancements of nCBF in both normal and hydropic cochleas. The basis of the flow increase is partially rheologic and partially due to a local vasodilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-175
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Meniere’s disease
  • glycerol
  • guinea pigs
  • hydrops
  • laser-Doppler flowmetry
  • osmotic diuretics
  • urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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