Date: 22 Apr 2006

Planar Relationships of the Semicircular Canals in Two Strains of Mice


The mouse is increasingly important as a subject of vestibular research. Although many studies have focused on the vestibular responses of mice to angular rotation, the geometry of their semicircular canals has not been described. High-voltage X-ray computed tomography was used to measure the anatomy of the semicircular canals of two strains of mice, C57Bl/6J and CBA/CaJ. The horizontal plane of a stereotaxic coordinate system was defined by the midpoints of the external auditory meati and the point where the incisors emerge from the maxilla. The centroids of the lumens of the bony canals were calculated, and planes that describe the canals were fit using a least-squares regression analysis to the resulting points. Vectors normal to each regressed plane were used to represent the corresponding canal's axis of rotation, and angles of these vectors relative to skull landmarks as well as to each other were calculated. The horizontal canal of the mouse was found to be angled anteriorly upward 17.8° for CBA/CaJ and 32.6° for C57Bl/6J from the reference horizontal plane. Angles between ipsilateral canals deviated up to 12.3° from orthogonal, and angles between contralateral synergistic canals (left anterior–right posterior, right anterior–left posterior, and horizontal–horizontal) deviated from parallel by up to 14.8°. The orientations of the canals within the head as well as the orientations of the canals relative to each other were significantly different between the two strains, suggesting that care must be taken in the design and interpretation of developmental and physiologic studies involving different mouse strains.