Medical Definition of Cochlea

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Cochlea: The cochlea is the part of the inner ear that converts mechanical energy (vibrations) into nerve impulses sent to the brain. It is also known as the organ of hearing.

The cochlea is a small conical structure resembling a snail shell. The word "cochlea" is a Latin word derived from the Greek "kokhlos" designating the land snail.

A coiled tube, the cochlea winds two and three quarters turns about a central bony axis, forming the front (the anterior) part of the labyrinth (a maze within the inner ear). The cochlea contains the spiral organ (called the organ of Corti) which is the receptor for hearing.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018