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Labyrinth (anatomy)
Balance Disorder Illustration A.png
Latin labyrinthus vestibularis
Gray's subject #232 1047
MeSH A09.246.631

The labyrinth is a system of fluid passages in the inner ear, including both the cochlea which is part of the auditory system, and the vestibular system which provides the sense of balance. It is named by analogy with the mythical maze that imprisoned the Minotaur, because of its appearance.

The vestibule is the region of the inner ear where the semicircular canals converge, close to the cochlea (the hearing organ). The vestibular system works with the visual system to keep objects in focus when the head is moving. Joint and muscle receptors also are important in maintaining balance. The brain receives, interprets, and processes the information from these systems that control our balance.


Interference with or infection of the Labyrinth can result in a syndrome of ailments called Labyrinthitis. The symptoms of Labrynthitis include temporary nausea, disorientation, vertigo, and dizziness. Labyrinthitis can be caused by viral infections, bacterial infections, physical blockage of the inner ear, or due to decompression sickness. This has been known to lead subjects to develop agrophobia after experiencing these symptoms in a public place and developing a fear of repeating the experience {ref}.

Main article: Labyrinth disorders

Anatomical details[]

Right human membranous labyrinth, removed from its bony enclosure and viewed from the antero-lateral aspect.
The same from the postero-medial aspect.

Top image is antero-lateral and bottom image is postero-medial.

  1. Lateral semicircular canal; 1’, its ampulla;
  2. Posterior canal; 2’, its ampulla.
  3. Superior canal; 3’, its ampulla.
  4. Conjoined limb of superior and posterior canals (sinus utriculi superior).
  5. Utricle. 5’. Recessus utriculi. 5”. Sinus utriculi posterior.
  6. Ductus endolymphaticus.
  7. Canalis utriculosaccularis.
  8. Nerve to ampulla of superior canal.
  9. Nerve to ampulla of lateral canal.
  10. Nerve to recessus utriculi (in top image, the three branches appear conjoined). 10’. Ending of nerve in recessus utriculi.
  11. Facial nerve.
  12. Lagena cochleæ.
  13. Nerve of cochlea within spiral lamina.
  14. Basilar membrane.
  15. Nerve fibers to macula of saccule.
  16. Nerve to ampulla of posterior canal.
  17. Saccule.
  18. Secondary membrane of tympanum.
  19. Canalis reuniens.
  20. Vestibular end of ductus cochlearis.
  21. Section of the facial and acoustic nerves within internal acoustic meatus (the separation between them is not apparent in the section).

See also[]

Nervous system - Sensory system - edit
Special sensesVisual system | Auditory system | Olfactory system | Gustatory system
Somatosensory systemNociception | Thermoreception | Vestibular system |
Mechanoreception (Pressure, Vibration & Proprioception) | Equilibrioception 


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