Unilateral vestibulotoxicity due to systemic gentamicin therapy

Acta Otolaryngol. 1998 Jul;118(4):474-8. doi: 10.1080/00016489850154586.


Systemic gentamicin can cause acute bilateral, simultaneous, symmetrical loss of vestibular function manifested by symptoms and signs of chronic vestibular insufficiency (ataxia and oscillopsia). We report 6 patients presenting with ataxia and oscillopsia, but without a history of vertigo, who had severe unilateral loss of vestibular function on caloric testing. The absence of vertigo in these patients could be explained by two possible mechanisms: either, the unilateral loss of vestibular function was subacute, occurring over several days so that compensation could occur, or bilateral vestibular loss occurred which was then followed by asymmetrical recovery of vestibular function. The second hypothesis is supported by the observation that vestibular hair cells can regenerate after aminoglycoside damage.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Caloric Tests
  • Female
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage
  • Gentamicins / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vertigo
  • Vestibular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / drug effects
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiopathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins