Objective: The report proposes a new classification system for inner ear malformations, based on radiological features of inner ear malformations reviewed in 23 patients.
Study design: The investigation took the form of a retrospective review of computerized tomography findings relating to the temporal bone in 23 patients (13 male and 10 female patients) with inner ear malformations. The subjects were patients with profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who had all had high-resolution computed tomography (CT) with contiguous 1-mm-thick images obtained through the petrous bone in axial sections.
Methods: The CT results were reviewed for malformations of bony otic capsule under the following subgroups: cochlear, vestibular, semicircular canal, internal auditory canal (IAC), and vestibular and cochlear aqueduct malformations. Cochlear malformations were classified as Michel deformity, common cavity deformity, cochlear aplasia, hypoplastic cochlea, incomplete partition types I (IP-I) and II (IP-II) (Mondini deformity). Incomplete partition type I (cystic cochleovestibular malformation) is defined as a malformation in which the cochlea lacks the entire modiolus and cribriform area, resulting in a cystic appearance, and there is an accompanying large cystic vestibule. In IP-II (the Mondini deformity), there is a cochlea consisting of 1.5 turns (in which the middle and apical turns coalesce to form a cystic apex) accompanied by a dilated vestibule and enlarged vestibular aqueduct.
Results: Four patients demonstrated anomalies involving only one inner ear component. All the remaining patients had diseases or conditions affecting more than one inner ear component. Eight ears had IP-I, and 10 patients had IP-II. Ears with IP-I had large cystic vestibules, whereas the amount of dilation was minimal in patients with IP-II. The majority of the semicircular canals (67%) were normal. Semicircular canal aplasia accompanied cases of Michel deformity, cochlear hypoplasia, and common cavity. In 14 ears, the IAC had a defective fundus at the lateral end. In two ears the IAC was absent. In all seven cases of common cavity malformations, there was a bony defect at the lateral end of the IAC. In five of them the IAC was enlarged, whereas in two the IAC was narrow. All patients with IP-I had an enlarged IAC, whereas in patients with type II disease, four had a normal IAC and 10 had an enlarged IAC. All cases of IP-II had an enlarged vestibular aqueduct, whereas this finding was not present in any of the cases of IP-I. In all cases, the vestibular aqueduct findings were symmetrical on both sides (simultaneously normal or enlarged). No patient demonstrated enlargement or any other abnormalities involving the cochlear aqueduct.
Conclusions: Radiological findings of congenital malformations in the present study suggested two different types of incomplete partition. Cystic cochleovestibular malformation (IP-I) and the classic Mondini deformity (IP-II). The type I malformation is less differentiated than the type II malformation. Classic Mondini deformity has three components (a cystic apex, dilated vestibule, and large vestibular aqueduct), whereas type I malformation has an empty, cystic cochlea and vestibule without an enlarged vestibular aqueduct. Mondini deformity represents a later malformation, so the amount of dysplasia is much less than in type II. Therefore, it is more accurate and useful for clinical purposes to classify these malformations (in descending order of severity) as follows: Michel deformity, cochlear aplasia, common cavity, IP-I (cystic cochleovestibular malformation), cochlear hypoplasia, and IP-II (Mondini deformity). Only in this way can these complex malformations be grouped precisely and the results of cochlear implantation compared.