Management of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a randomized controlled trial

J Emerg Med. 2014 Apr;46(4):575-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.08.116. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


Background: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common presenting problem.

Objective: Our aim was to compare the efficacy of vestibular rehabilitation (maneuver) vs. conventional therapy (medications) in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with BPPV.

Methods: This was a prospective, single-blinded physician, randomized pilot study comparing two groups of patients who presented to the ED with a diagnosis of BPPV at a Level 1 trauma center with an annual census of approximately 75,000. The first group received standard medications and the second group received a canalith repositioning maneuver. The Dizziness Handicap Inventory was used to measure symptom resolution.

Results: Twenty-six patients were randomized; 11 to the standard treatment arm and 15 to the interventional arm. Mean age ± standard deviation of subjects randomized to receive maneuver and medication were 59 ± 12.6 years and 64 ± 11.2 years, respectively. There was no significant difference in mean ages between the two treatment arms (p = 0.310). Two hours after treatment, the symptoms between the groups showed no difference in measures of nausea (p = 0.548) or dizziness (p = 0.659). Both groups reported a high level of satisfaction, measured on a 0-10 scale. Satisfaction in subjects randomized to receive maneuver and medication was 9 ± 1.5 and 9 ± 1.0, respectively; there was no significant difference in satisfaction between the two arms (p = 0.889). Length of stay during the ED visit did not differ between the treatment groups (p = 0.873). None of the patients returned to an ED for similar symptoms.

Conclusions: This pilot study shows promise, and would suggest that there is no difference in symptomatic resolution, ED length of stay, or patient satisfaction between standard medical care and canalith repositioning maneuver. Physicians should consider the canalith repositioning maneuver as a treatment option.

Keywords: ED; benign paroxysmal positional vertigo; vestibular rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo / complications
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo / therapy*
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Female
  • Head*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Patient Positioning*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Posture*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Torso
  • Trauma Centers