Pictures of Semicircular Canals Ampulla -

The semicircular canals are a component of the bony labyrinth that are at right angles from each other. At one end of each of the semicircular canals is a dilated sac called an osseous ampulla which is more than twice the diameter of the canal. Each ampulla contains an ampulla crest, the crista ampullaris which consists of a thick gelatinous cap called a cupula and many hair cells. The superior and posterior semicircular canals are oriented vertically at right angles to each other. The lateral semicircular canal is about a 30-degree angle from the horizontal plane. The orientations of the canals cause a different canal to be stimulated by movement of the head in different planes, and more than one canal is stimulated at once if the movement is off those planes. The horizontal canal detects angular acceleration of the head when the head is turned and the superior and posterior canals detect vertical head movements when the head is moved up or down. When the head changes position, the endolymph in the canals lags behind due to inertia and this acts on the cupula which bends the cilia of the hair cells. The stimulation of the hair cells sends the message to the brain that acceleration is taking place. The ampullae open into the vestibule by five orifices, one of the apertures being common to two of the canals.