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Human Nasal Cartilage Ultrastructure: Characteristics and Comparison Using Scanning Electron Microscopy

Authors

  • Paul K. Holden MD, MS,

    1. From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Irvine, California, U.S.A.
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  • Li-Huei Liaw MS,

    1. From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Irvine, California, U.S.A.
    2. From the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, California, U.S.A.; Beckman Laser Institute, Irvine, California, U.S.A.
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  • Brian J.-F. Wong MD, PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Irvine, California, U.S.A.
    2. From the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, California, U.S.A.; Beckman Laser Institute, Irvine, California, U.S.A.
    • Send correspondence to Brian J.-F. Wong, MD, PhD, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 101 The City Drive, Building 56, Suite 500, Orange, CA 92868
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  • Presented at the Triological Society Western Section Meeting, January 31–February 2, 2008, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.A. Editor's Note: This Manuscript was accepted for publication February 18, 2008. Disclaimer: The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation. This study was supported by grant DC005572, P41RR01192 from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense (Medical Free Electron Laser Program FA9550-04-1-0101).

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis: Human nasal cartilage is hyaline cartilage, although the function and loads placed on it are different depending on the location. We hypothesized that important differences exist between the nasal septal cartilage and lower lateral cartilage (LLC) ultrastructures. Such differences would be important in the field of cartilage engineering.

Methods: Ten specimens (6 septum and 4 LLC) of cartilage from patients undergoing nasal surgery (rhinoplasty or septoplasty) were obtained and examined using scanning electron microscopy. Micrographs were then analyzed and measured using photograph analysis software.

Results: The collagen fibers of septal cartilage were found to be arranged in a mesh framework, with larger lacunae and thicker fibers measuring 3.18 μm (standard deviation = 0.75 μm), with a 99.9% confidence interval of 2.74 to 3.54 μm. LLC fibers, on the other hand, were arranged in less-organized sheets, with fibrous extensions, and had fewer, narrower lacunae. The fibers from the LLC averaged 2.29 μm, with a 99.9% confidence interval of 1.17 to 3.42 μm.

Conclusions: Significant ultrastructural differences exist between the cartilage of the nasal septum and LLC. These are almost certainly the result of their embryologic origins and different forces placed on the structures they support. A less-organized pattern with smaller collagen fibers is present in the LLC versus the more-organized, layered, thicker collagen fibers of the septum. These differences may prove to be critical in the future of cartilage engineering.

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