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Anatomy of the Inner Ear

Close-up of ear showing inner ear structures.

There are two types of canals in the inner ear. One is the hearing canal. The other is a set of balance canals. The hearing and balance canals are made of hard bone lined by membrane.

The canals are filled with a fluid called endolymph. The level of this fluid is maintained by a small organ called the endolymphatic sac. In the hearing canal, sound waves cause vibrations in the fluid. This creates sound messages. In the balance canals, movement of the fluid creates other messages. These are about the position and motion of your body. Messages from both canals travel along a nerve to the brain.

Image of the inner ear structures including the endolymphatic sac, the balance canals, the hearing canal and the hearing and balance nerve.


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