The interpretation of clinical tests of peripheral vestibular function

Laryngoscope. 2012 Jun;122(6):1342-52. doi: 10.1002/lary.23258. Epub 2012 Mar 27.


Recently, new clinical tests of canal and otolith function have been introduced. They rest on sound anatomical and physiological evidence; however, the interpretation of the results of these tests has only recently been clarified. This review summarizes the anatomical and physiological evidence underpinning the tests of both canal and otolith function to provide a full picture of the interpretation of the tests, which allow the clinician to assess the status of the peripheral vestibular function of a patient--all six canals and four otoliths. The present review does not document all the minute details associated with each test, but provides an overview of the interpretation of properly presented tests and shows typical response profiles of patients with various types of vestibular loss, based on published anatomical, physiological, and clinical evidence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Caloric Tests*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Otolithic Membrane / physiopathology*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Semicircular Canals / physiology
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials
  • Vestibular Function Tests / methods*