CT and MR imaging of congential abnormalities of the inner ear and internal auditory canal

Eur J Radiol. 2001 Nov;40(2):94-104. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(01)00377-1.


The embryology of the inner ear must be known as many of the inner ear malformations present as a result of the arrest during the various stages of embryology. These malformations are described in this "embryologic" perspective and specific names for certain malformations are no longer used. Both CT and MR can be used to look at inner ear malformations but often both techniques are complementary. However, CT is preferred when associated middle- or external ear malformations must be excluded. Magnetic resonance is preferred when subtle changes in the membranous labyrinth or abnormalities of the nerves in the internal auditory canal must be visualised. The CT and MR technique must however be adapted as more and more subtle congenital malformations can only be seen when the right technique is used. The heavily T2-weighted gradient-echo or fast spin-echo MR techniques are mandatory if malformations of the inner ear must be excluded. The purpose of this paper is to describe the techniques used to study these patients and to give an overview of the most frequent and important congenital malformations which can be found in the inner ear and internal auditory canal/cerebellopontine angle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ear, Inner / abnormalities*
  • Ear, Inner / anatomy & histology
  • Ear, Inner / diagnostic imaging
  • Ear, Inner / embryology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Syndrome
  • Temporal Bone / abnormalities*
  • Temporal Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods