A mathematical model of human semicircular canal geometry

A new basis for interpreting vestibular physiology

Andrew P. Bradshaw, Ian S. Curthoys, Michael J. Todd, John S. Magnussen, David S. Taubman, Swee T. Aw, G. Michael Halmagyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)


We report a precise, simple, and accessible method of mathematically measuring and modeling the threedimensional (3D) geometry of semicircular canals (SCCs) in living humans. Knowledge of this geometry helps understand the development and physiology of SCC stimulation. We developed a framework of robust techniques that automatically and accurately reconstruct SCCgeometry fromcomputed tomography (CT) images and are directly validated using micro-CT as ground truth. This frameworkmeasures the 3D centroid paths of the bony SCCs allowing direct comparison and analysis between ears within and between subjects. An average set of SCC morphology is calculated from 34 human ears, within which other geometrical attributes such as nonplanarity, radius of curvature, and inter-SCC angle are examined, with a focus on physiological implications. These measurements have also been used to critically evaluate plane fitting techniques that reconcile many of the discrepancies in current SCC plane studies. Finally, we mathematically model SCC geometry using Fourier series equations. This work has the potential to reinterpret physiology and pathophysiology in terms of real individual 3D morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes

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