Therapeutic efficacy of the Epley canalith repositioning maneuver

Laryngoscope. 2001 Jun;111(6):940-5. doi: 10.1097/00005537-200106000-00003.


Objectives/hypotheses: The hypotheses of the current study are as follows: 1) That if the Epley canalith repositioning maneuver is an effective treatment for benign positional vertigo (BPV), relief from the vertigo should occur virtually immediately after the performance of the maneuver; 2) that the Epley canalith repositioning maneuver does provide almost immediate relief in BPV and should be the established treatment of choice for this disorder in both primary and tertiary care settings; and 3) that residual symptoms of lightheadedness and imbalance do persist after the resolution of the vertigo. The distinction of these symptoms from the vertigo is required for the accurate evaluation of the efficacy of positional maneuvers.

Study design: Prospective cohort study in a tertiary care balance center.

Methods: Eighty-six patients (95 cases) with a history and physical examination consistent with active BPV were entered in the study. Patients were treated with a modified Epley canalith repositioning maneuver. A modified 360 degrees roll was used to treat those patients with horizontal canal BPV. Patients were provided with a preprinted diary in which they were to circle the answer most relevant to their symptoms for 14 days after the maneuver. Patients were then re-evaluated in the office at 2 weeks after the maneuver.

Results: The mean duration of the BPV before treatment was 9 weeks. Seventy-four percent of cases that were treated with one or two canalith repositioning maneuvers had a resolution of vertigo as a direct result of the maneuver. A resolution attributable to the first intervention was obtained in 70% of cases within 48 hours of the maneuver. An additional 14% of cases that were treated had a resolution of vertigo; however, it is not possible to say that these patients definitely benefited from the canalith repositioning maneuver. Only 4% of cases (three patients) manifested BPV that persisted after four treatments. Residual symptoms of lightheadedness or imbalance, or both, were frequent (47% of cases) but rarely required formal intervention with vestibular rehabilitation physical therapy.

Conclusions: The Epley canalith repositioning maneuver results in a resolution of vertigo in the majority of patients (70% of cases) immediately after one treatment. It is safe and requires no special equipment or investigations. It should be established as the treatment of choice for BPV in both primary and tertiary care settings.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Otolithic Membrane*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Posture
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertigo / etiology
  • Vertigo / rehabilitation*
  • Vestibular Function Tests