Effects of unilateral loss of vestibular function on the vestibulo-ocular reflex and postural control

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1989 Nov;98(11):884-9. doi: 10.1177/000348948909801109.


Long-term recovery from surgically induced unilateral loss of vestibular function was studied in 14 patients. Seven patients underwent surgical extirpation or section of the vestibular nerve, and seven patients underwent labyrinthectomy without vestibular nerve section. The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and postural control were evaluated preoperatively and monitored for up to 4 years postoperatively with use of pseudorandom rotation (combined sinusoidal frequencies from 0.009 to 1.5 Hz) and moving platform posturography. Immediately following surgery all patients showed minimal reductions in the VOR gain constant, but marked reduction in the time constant, and marked increase in slow eye velocity bias. Bias returned to normal values within about 10 days, but time constants never returned to normal values. Results of standard Romberg tests in these patients were normal throughout the preoperative and postoperative periods. However, all patients showed marked postural control abnormalities in tests of the ability to maintain balance in unusual sensory environments in the immediate postoperative period. Seventy-five percent of the patients eventually recovered normal postural control. Postural control returned to near baseline performance with a time course similar to that of the VOR bias. However, postural control also continued to improve after the recovery of VOR bias was complete.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Electrooculography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / physiopathology
  • Meniere Disease / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / physiopathology
  • Neuroma, Acoustic / surgery
  • Postural Balance
  • Posture*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Vestibular Function Tests
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Nerve / surgery*