Epinephrine-induced changes in human cochlear blood flow.Am J Otol. 1994 May; 15(3):299-305; discussion 305-6.AJ
Cochlear blood flow (CBF) was monitored over the basal turn stria vascularis using laser Doppler flowmetry in five human subjects during middle ear surgery. The effects of systemically administered epinephrine (0.3 microgram/kg) and topically applied epinephrine (1:10,000) on the round window membrane (RWM) were examined. Topical epinephrine caused a mean reduction of 60 percent in CBF (maximum peak reduction 65-85% across subjects), which slowly recovered (> 10 min) toward baseline following epinephrine removal from the RWM. The changes in CBF are similar to those found in animal studies, but are much larger, indicating a relatively more pronounced role of adrenergic agents in CBF control in humans. Systemic epinephrine caused a 40 percent decrease in skin blood flow, a 90 percent increase in blood pressure (BP), above a resting hypotensive mean level of 65 mmHg, and a 50 percent increase in CBF. The CBF change followed the change in BP, but recovered toward baseline more slowly. The dramatic and somewhat prolonged decreases in CBF with RWM application of epinephrine may compromise sensory function and could account for the occasional unexplained sensorineural hearing loss or tinnitus associated with middle ear procedures that use topical epinephrine. The semipermeability of the RWM may, on the other hand, offer a route for therapeutic increases in CBF with vasodilative agents and provide an appropriate treatment for some cases of sensorineural hearing loss.