To the best of our knowledge, histopathologic studies of syphilitic ears have generally focused on hydropic changes; so far, no such studies have investigated peripheral vestibular otopathology using differential interference contrast microscopy, in patients with syphilis. For this study, we examined 13 human temporal bone samples from 8 patients with a history of syphilis. Using conventional light microscopy, we performed qualitative histopathologic assessment. In addition, using differential interference contrast microscopy, we performed type I and type II vestibular hair cell counts on each vestibular sense organ with minimal autolysis; in which the neuroepithelium was oriented perpendicular to the plane of section. We then compared vestibular hair cell densities (cells per 0.01 mm² surface area) in the syphilis group vs. the control group. In the syphilis group, we observed precipitate in the endolymphatic or perilymphatic spaces in 1 (7.7 %) of the samples and endolymphatic hydrops in eight (61.5 %) of the samples. Hydrops involved the cochlea (four samples) and/or saccule (four samples). In addition, the syphilis group experienced a significant loss of type II vestibular hair cells in the maculae of the utricle and saccule, and in the cristae of the lateral and posterior semicircular canals, as compared with the control group (P < 0.05).
- Hair cell
- Temporal bone