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  Alan Shepard, his ear surgery and flight status

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Author Topic:   Alan Shepard, his ear surgery and flight status
Captain Apollo

Posts: 184
From: UK
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 02-17-2014 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Captain Apollo   Click Here to Email Captain Apollo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I understand that Alan Shepard's surgery involved inserting a tube or shunt to drain fluid from his inner ear.

Does anyone know, did this drain solution rely on gravity, in which case I am puzzled how he could have regained flight status? Or was it perhaps capillary action that drained his ear?

I suppose that if gravity it might not matter on the lunar surface, but during the rest of the flight? Or was it the case that the draining effect gave him respite for a period and the build up of fluid that could not drain away in zero G would take longer than the mission?


Posts: 165
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 02-17-2014 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Based on my novice reading here, I don't think gravity was part of the "drain" of endolymph (an excess build up of this fluid causes Ménière's disease). For whatever reason, Ménière's disease is caused by an excess production of the fluid (it doesn't seem like anyone has a satisfactory reason why such a build-up occurs).

It sounds like Endolymphatic Shunt Placement (the specific procedure Shepard underwent) simply provides a path for the additional fluid it drain out, instead of build up and cause all the problems associated with Ménière's disease.

Again, this is just based on quick research, so anybody with a better idea (and an actual medical background), please feel free to jump in.

All times are CT (US)

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