Inferior vestibular neuritis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Apr;956:306-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2002.tb02829.x.


Sudden, spontaneous, unilateral loss of vestibular function without simultaneous hearing loss or brain stem signs is generally attributed to a viral infection involving the vestibular nerve and is called acute vestibular neuritis. The clinical hallmarks of acute vestibular neuritis are vertigo, spontaneous nystagmus, and unilateral loss of lateral semicircular function as shown by impulsive and caloric testing. In some patients with vestibular neuritis the process appears to involve only anterior and lateral semicircular function, and these patients are considered to have selective superior vestibular neuritis. Here we report on two patients with acute vertigo, normal lateral semicircular canal function as shown by both impulsive and caloric testing, but selective loss of posterior semicircular canal function as shown by impulsive testing and of saccular function as shown by vestibular evoked myogenic potential testing. We suggest that these patients had selective inferior vestibular neuritis and that contrary to conventional teaching, in a patient with acute spontaneous vertigo, unilateral loss of lateral semicircular canal function is not essential for a diagnosis of acute vestibular neuritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuritis / physiopathology*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*