Canal dehiscence

Curr Opin Neurol. 2011 Feb;24(1):25-31. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e328341ef88.


Purpose of review: The aim is to review canal dehiscence involving the superior, lateral, and posterior semicircular canals. The main focus will be on superior semicircular canal dehiscence.

Recent findings: Canal dehiscence involving the superior, lateral, and posterior semicircular canal can have different etiologies, including developmental abnormality, congenital defect, chronic otitis media with cholesteatoma, and high-riding jugular bulb. However, their clinical presentation can be very similar, with patients complaining of vertigo, oscillopsia, and sometimes hearing loss. Canal dehiscence causes an abnormal communication between the inner ear and the surrounding structures. This creates a third mobile window within the inner ear, disrupting its normal mechanics and causing symptoms.

Summary: Superior semicircular canal dehiscence is now a well-established entity in the medical literature. Surgical repair is effective at relieving patients' vestibular symptoms. Lateral semicircular canal dehiscence is usually associated with chronic otitis media. Posterior semicircular canal dehiscence is a rare entity, with similar clinical presentations and treatment options as the other canal dehiscences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ear Diseases / complications
  • Ear Diseases / etiology
  • Ear Diseases / pathology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Hearing Loss, Conductive / etiology
  • Humans
  • Labyrinthitis / complications
  • Semicircular Canals / pathology*
  • Vertigo / etiology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiopathology