Vestibular migraine: long-term follow-up of clinical symptoms and vestibulo-cochlear findings

Neurology. 2012 Oct 9;79(15):1607-14. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826e264f. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Objective: The aim of the study was to assess the evolution of clinical symptoms and vestibulo-cochlear function in patients with definite vestibular migraine (dVM).

Methods: We reassessed 61 patients (54 women, 7 men, aged 24-76 years) with dVM according to validated diagnostic criteria after a median follow-up time of 9 years (range, 5.5-11). Assessment comprised a clinical interview and neurotologic examination, including pure-tone audiometry and caloric testing.

Results: The majority of patients (87%) had recurrent vertigo at follow-up. Frequency of vertigo was reduced in 56%, increased in 29%, and unchanged in 16%. Impact of vertigo was severe in 21%, moderate in 43%, and mild in 36%. Eighteen percent reported mild persistent unsteadiness. Interictal ocular motor abnormalities had increased from 16% initially to 41% of patients at follow-up. The most frequent finding was positional nystagmus (PN), in 28%, including definite central-type PN in 18%. However, only 1 of 9 patients with ocular motor abnormalities at initial presentation showed similar findings on follow-up. Concomitant cochlear symptoms with vertigo had increased from 15% initially to 49%. Eleven patients (18%) had developed mild bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, which also involved the low-frequency range.

Conclusions: The majority of patients continue to have recurrent vertigo in the long-term evolution of VM, and the impact of vertigo may remain severe. Whereas interictal ocular motor abnormalities may show some variation over time, vestibulo-cochlear dysfunction progresses slowly in some patients with VM. Interictal central-type PN may help distinguish VM from peripheral vestibular disorders such as Ménière disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caloric Tests
  • Cochlea / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vertigo / diagnosis*
  • Vertigo / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiopathology*