Introduction Alterations in endolymphatic pressure have long been suspected of being associated with the development of endolymphatic hydrops and rupture of the membranous labyrinth. More recently, there has been a focus on how membrane mechanics might contribute to membrane rupture. This is suspected to involve the viscoelastoplastic properties of these membranes.
Objective To construct a rupture risk envelope for the cochleo-saccular membranes based on viscoelastoplasticity to provide insight into lesion behavior in Meniere disease.
Methods Reported deformation data from a collagen model of the cochleo-saccular membranes was utilized. Yield stress was defined as 80% of ultimate failure stress. The yield points at various strain rates were used to construct a rupture risk envelope for the membranes.
Results The rupture risk envelope was found to be downward sloping in configuration. At the highest strain rate of 385% per minute, the membrane yield was associated with greater stress (7.0 kPa) and lesser strain (30%); while at the lowest strain rate of 19.2% per minute, there was substantially less membrane yield stress (4.3 kPa) but it was associated with greater strain (44%).
Conclusion The concept of a rupture risk envelope based on viscoelastoplasticity provides insight into hydropic lesion behavior in Meniere disease. This concept helps to explain how variations in membrane distensibility might occur as suspected in the double hit theory of lesion generation in Meniere disease. Slowly developing lesions would appear have a lower rupture risk while rapidly developing lesions would appear to have a greater risk of early membrane rupture.