Background: Recent studies have extended our understanding of the pathophysiology, natural course, and treatment of vestibular vertigo. The relative frequency of the different forms is as follows: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) 17.1%; phobic vestibular vertigo 15%; central vestibular syndromes 12.3%; vestibular migraine 11.4%; Menière's disease 10.1%; vestibular neuritis 8.3%; bilateral vestibulopathy 7.1%; vestibular paroxysmia 3.7%.
Methods: Selective literature survey with particular regard to Cochrane reviews and the guidelines of the German Neurological Society.
Results: In more than 95% of cases BPPV can be successfully treated by means of liberatory maneuvers (controlled studies); the long-term recurrence rate is 50%. Corticosteroids improve recovery from acute vestibular neuritis (one controlled, several noncontrolled studies); the risk of recurrence is 2-12%. A newly identified subtype of bilateral vestibulopathy, termed cerebellar ataxia, neuropathy, and vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS), shows no essential improvement in the long term. Long-term high-dose treatment with betahistine is probably effective against Menière's disease (noncontrolled studies); the frequency of episodes decreases spontaneously in the course of time (> 5 years). The treatment of choice for vestibular paroxysmia is carbamazepine (noncontrolled study). Aminopyridine, chlorzoxazone, and acetyl-DL-leucine are new treatment options for various cerebellar diseases.
Conclusion: Most vestibular syndromes can be treated successfully. The efficacy of treatments for Menière's disease, vestibular paroxysmia, and vestibular migraine requires further research.