Vestibule of the ear

The vestibule is the central part of the bony labyrinth in the inner ear, and is situated medial to the eardrum (tympanic cavity), behind the cochlea, and in front of the three semicircular canals.

Vestibule of the ear
Schematic overview of the vestibulocochlear organ, vestibule centre left.
Part ofBony labyrinth of the inner ear.
Latinvestibulum labyrinthi, vestibulum auris
Anatomical terminology

The name comes from the Latin vestibulum, literally an entrance hall.


The vestibule is somewhat oval in shape, but flattened transversely; it measures about 5 mm from front to back, the same from top to bottom, and about 3 mm across.

In its lateral or tympanic wall is the oval window (fenestra vestibuli), closed, in the fresh state, by the base of the stapes and annular ligament.

On its medial wall, at the forepart, is a small circular depression, the recessus sphæricus, which is perforated, at its anterior and inferior part, by several minute holes (macula cribrosa media) for the passage of filaments of the acoustic nerve to the saccule; and behind this depression is an oblique ridge, the crista vestibuli, the anterior end of which is named the pyramid of the vestibule.

This ridge bifurcates below to enclose a small depression, the fossa cochlearis, which is perforated by a number of holes for the passage of filaments of the acoustic nerve which supply the vestibular end of the ductus cochlearis.

The orifice of the aquæductus vestibuli is the hind part of the medial wall; it extends to the posterior surface of the petrous portion of the temporal bone.

It transmits a small vein and contains a tubular prolongation of the membranous labyrinth, the endolymphatic duct, which ends in a cul-de-sac between the layers of the dura mater within the cranial cavity.

On the upper wall or roof, there is a transversely oval depression, the recessus ellipticus, separated from the recessus sphæricus by the crista vestibuli already mentioned.

The pyramid and adjoining part of the recessus ellipticus are perforated by a number of holes (macula cribosa superior).

The apertures in the pyramid transmit the nerves to the utricle; those in the recessus ellipticus are the nerves to the ampullæ of the superior and lateral semicircular ducts.

Behind, the five orifices of the semicircular canals can be found.

In the frontal view, there is an elliptical opening which communicates with the scala vestibuli of the cochlea.

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 1047 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

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