Optical Imaging of the Inner Ear

We are developing optical tools for intracochlear imaging through the encasing bone and without exogenous dyes so to establish cellular diagnosis and guide therapy, which is not yet possible in the clinic. This research addresses the fact that the clinical audiogram, which is the gold standard for diagnosis of hearing loss, does not predict specific cellular damage in the inner ear (Landegger et al, 2016). In collaboration with Dr. Demetri Psaltis (Optical Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne), we have discovered that two-photon microscopy of the intact mouse cochlea offers unprecedented cellular resolution of unstained tissue (Yang et al, 2013). In collaboration with Dr. Gary Tearney (MGH), we have demonstrated the utility of micro optical coherence tomography for imaging of cells and nerve-fiber bundles in the mammalian cochlea (Iyer et al, 2016). Our characterization of the optical properties of the mouse (Kalwani et al, 2013) and human (Low et al, 2015) inner ears strongly motivates the ongoing research to develop an endoscope for cellular-level imaging of the human inner ear during an outpatient visit (Fujita et al, 2016). Such an endoscope may also provide insight into cellular generators of tinnitus, as tinnitus typically originates in the inner ear and propagates into the brain.


Iyer JS, Batts SA, Chu KK, Sahin MI, Leung HM, Tearney GJ, Stankovic KM. Micro-Optical Coherence Tomography of the Mammalian Cochlea. Scientific Reports 2016;6:3328.

Fujita T, Shin JE, Cunnane MB, Fujita K, Henein S, Psaltis D, Stankovic KM. Surgical Anatomy of the Human Round Window Region: Implications for Cochlear Endoscopy through the External Auditory Canal. Otology and Neurotology 2016; May 25.

Landegger LD, Psaltis D, Stankovic KM. Human Audiometric Thresholds do not Predict Specific Cellular Damage in the Inner Ear. Hearing Research 2016;335:83-93.

Low JCM, Ober TJ, McKinley G, Stankovic KM. Quantitative Polarized Light Microscopy of Human Cochlear Sections. Biomedical Optics Express. 2015;6(2):599-606.

Kalwani NM, Ong CA, Lysaght A, Haward SJ, McKinley GH, Stankovic KM. Quantitative Polarized Light Microscopy of Unstained Mammalian Cochlear Sections. Journal of Biomedical Optics 2013; 18(2): 26021.

Yang X, Pu Y, Psaltis D, Stankovic KM. In situ Imaging of the Mouse Cochlea Using Two Photon Microscopy. SPIE conference proceedings. 2013;8972, Optical methods for inspection, characterization and imaging of biomaterials, 87920T.

Yang X, Pu Y, Hsieh CL, Ong CA, Psaltis D, Stankovic KM. Two Photon Microscopy of the Mouse Cochlea in situ for Cellular Diagnosis.  Journal of Biomedical Optics, 2013; 18(3): 31104.