Vestibular ganglionectomy and otolith nerve identification in the hatchling chicken

Seth M. Pollack, Anastas Popratiloff, Kenna D. Peusner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Unilateral peripheral vestibular lesions are characterized by rapid recovery from the static symptoms, called vestibular compensation, a process likely involving brain plasticity. The hatchling chick offers a promising model for studies of this process. Ganglionectomy is performed, since it provides a reproducible lesion. Here, we describe a surgical approach for vestibular ganglionectomy and the identification of the otolith nerves, using drawings and digital images of the surgical field to assist in visualizing and accessing this small, complex, and highly vascular region of the inner ear. A retroauricular approach was used in 4-8-day-old hatchling chicks. Broad access and easy identification of the otolith nerves were achieved by cauterizing the caudal auricular artery and vein in the exoccipital bone and excising the surrounding exoccipital and squamosal bones. The vestibular ganglion was accessed by removing the bony medial wall of the vestibule. Dura mater covering the ganglion was opened, the primary vestibular fibers were cut at the lateral brain surface, and the anterior and posterior parts of the vestibular ganglion were extirpated. At 24 h after surgery, the survival rate was 87% and complete ganglionectomy was achieved in 85% of operated animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-155
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 30 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Dye placement
  • Inner ear
  • Microsurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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