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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991 Jan;104(1):67-71.

Bilateral vestibular paresis: diagnosis and treatment.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109.


Patients with bilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction present a substantial diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to the otologist. Caloric irrigations that suggest bilateral weakness may mislead the clinician when considerable peripheral function remains. Rotary chair testing at several frequencies is helpful in confirming the degree of residual function and may identify patients who have a better prognosis in rehabilitation. Forty-nine patients with bilateral vestibular paresis were evaluated. The diagnosis was based on caloric responses of less than 5 degrees/sec in both ears and reduced gain on rotary chair trials. Oscillopsia occurred in the minority of patients (35%) and was rare unless severe paresis was present. Episodic vertigo occurred in 43%. All patients had abnormal posturography results, with vestibular dysfunction and severe dysfunction patterns predominating. The treatment outcomes of 22 patients who underwent vestibular rehabilitation are discussed. Prevention of bilateral vestibular paresis remains a high priority.

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