Subjective benign paroxysmal positional vertigo

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Jan;146(1):98-103. doi: 10.1177/0194599811425158. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Objective: To study the demographic, clinical, pathogenetic, and nystagmographic features and treatment outcomes of subjective benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

Study design: Prospective clinical trial.

Setting: Tertiary referral center.

Subjects and methods: Sixty-three patients were studied (mean [SD] age 55.4 [9.4] years), 27 men and 36 women, who presented with a positive history for BPPV and Dix-Hallpike or supine roll tests positive for vertigo but negative for nystagmus. A comprehensive history was obtained, followed by clinical examination of the ears, nose, and throat and a complete audiologic and neurotologic examination, including videonystagmography. All patients were treated with the appropriate canalith repositioning procedure, depending on the type of provoking positioning test. A group of 204 patients with typical BPPV were used for comparison.

Results: Forty-five patients with subjective BPPV were successfully treated. Eighteen patients, in most of whom vertigo of other causes was identified, did not respond to treatment. Comparison between patients with subjective and typical BPPV showed similar epidemiological and clinical features. Treatment failed in 13.5% of patients with subjective disease, after excluding patients with different causes of positional vertigo, as compared with 7.8% of patients with typical BPPV (odds ratio = 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-4.7; P = .32).

Conclusion: Subjective BPPV is quite common, accounting for more than one-fourth of patients with typical BPPV and sharing common features with it, with the exception of nystagmus. No statistical difference in treatment outcomes between patients with subjective and typical BPPV was found, but study of a larger sample is needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Electronystagmography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / epidemiology*
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / etiology
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / physiopathology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Positioning / methods*
  • Physical Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertigo / diagnosis
  • Vertigo / physiopathology
  • Vertigo / therapy*