Caloric and search-coil head-impulse testing in patients after vestibular neuritis

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2001 Mar;2(1):72-8. doi: 10.1007/s101620010060.


The objective of this study was to compare results of quantitative head-impulse testing using search coils with eye-movement responses to caloric irrigation in patients with unilateral vestibular hypofunction after vestibular neuritis. The study population consisted of an acute group (<3 days; N = 10; 5 male, 5 female; 26-89 years old) and a chronic group (>2 months; N = 14; 8 male, 6 female; 26-78 years old) of patients with unilateral vestibular hypofunction after vestibular neuritis. The testing battery included: (1) simultaneous measurement of eye and head rotations with search coils in a magnetic coil frame during passive Halmagyi-Curthoys head-impulse testing and (2) electronystagmography during bilateral monaural 44 degrees C-warm and 30 degrees C-cold caloric irrigation. The main outcome measures were (1) the gain of the horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex during search-coil head-impulse testing and (2) the amount of canal paresis during caloric irrigation. All acute and chronic patients had a unilateral gain reduction during search-coil head-impulse testing. A pathological canal paresis factor was present in 100% of the acute patients but in only 64% of the chronic patients. The clinically suspected unilateral vestibular hypofunction resulting from vestibular neuritis was validated in all acute patients by both search-coil head-impulse and caloric testing. Hence, either of these tests is sufficient for diagnosis in the acute phase of vestibular neuritis. Chronic patients, however, were reliably identified only by search-coil head-impulse testing, which suggests that the low-frequency function of the labyrinths often becomes symmetrical, leading to a normal canal paresis factor.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Head / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular
  • Temperature*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation*
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / physiopathology*