Recovery Nystagmus in Vestibular Neuritis with Minimal Canal Paresis. Clinical Observation and Interpretation

Brain Sci. 2022 Jan 14;12(1):110. doi: 10.3390/brainsci12010110.


Recovery nystagmus in vestibular neuritis patients is a reversal of spontaneous nystagmus direction, beating towards the affected ear, observed along the time course of central compensation. It is rarely registered due either to its rarity as a phenomenon per se, or to the fact that it is missed between follow-up appointments. The aim of the manuscript is to describe in detail a case of recovery nystagmus found in an atypical case of vestibular neuritis and discuss pathophysiology and clinical considerations regarding this rare finding. A 26-year-old man was referred to our Otorhinolaryngology practice reporting "dizziness" sensation and nausea in the last 48 h. Clinical examination revealed left beating spontaneous nystagmus (average slow phase velocity aSPV 8.1°/s) with absence of fixation. The head impulse test (H.I.T.) was negative. Cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (cVEMP) and Playtone audiometry (PTA) were normal. Romberg and Unterberger tests were not severely affected. A strong directional preponderance to the left was found in caloric vestibular test with minimal canal paresis (CP 13%) on the right. The first follow-up consultation took place on the 9th day after the onset of symptoms. Right beating weak (aSPV 2.4°/s) spontaneous nystagmus was observed with absence of fixation, whereas a strong right directional preponderance (DP) was found in caloric vestibular test. A brain MRI scan was ordered to exclude central causes of vertigo, which was normal. The patient was seen again completely free of symptoms 45 days later. He reported feeling dizzy during dynamic movements of the head and trunk for another 15 days after his second consultation. The unexpected observation of nystagmus direction reversal seven days after the first consultation is a typical sign of recovery nystagmus. Recovery nystagmus (RN) is centrally mediated and when found, it should always be carefully assessed in combination with the particularities of vestibular neuritis.

Keywords: minimal canal paresis; recovery nystagmus; vestibular neuritis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports