Intracochlear Drug Injections through the Round Window Membrane: Measures to Improve Drug Retention.
Local delivery of drugs to the inner ear is increasingly being used in both clinical and experimental studies. Although direct injection of drugs into perilymph appears to be the most promising way of administering drugs quantitatively, no studies have yet demonstrated the pharmacokinetics in perilymph following direct injections. In this study, we have investigated the retention of substance in perilymph following a single injection into the basal turn of scala tympani (ST). The substance injected was a marker, trimethylphenylammonium (TMPA) that can be detected in low concentrations with ion-selective microelectrodes. Perilymph pharmacokinetics of TMPA was assessed using sequential apical sampling to obtain perilymph for analysis. The amount of TMPA retained in perilymph was compared for different injection and sampling protocols. TMPA concentrations measured in fluid samples were close to those predicted by simulations when the injection pipette was sealed into the bony wall of ST but were systematically lower when the injection pipette was inserted through the round window membrane (RWM). In the latter condition, it was estimated that over 60% of the injected TMPA was lost due to leakage of perilymph around the injection pipette at a rate estimated to be 0.09muL/min. The effects of leakage during and after injections through the RWM were dramatically reduced when the round window niche was filled with 1% sodium hyaluronate gel before penetrating the RWM with the injection pipette. The findings demonstrate that in order to perform quantitative drug injections into perilymph, even small rates of fluid leakage at the injection site must be controlled.