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Auris Nasus Larynx. 2011 Jun;38(3):307-11. doi: 10.1016/j.anl.2010.10.005. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Subjective visual vertical before and after treatment of a BPPV episode.

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Department of Medical-Surgical Specialization, Otolaryngology and Cervicofacial Surgery Division, University of Perugia, Via Delle Danaidi 21, Perugia, Italy.



The study analyses the behavior of subjective visual vertical (SVV) in benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) before and after treatment, and offers a clinical-pathogenic interpretation.


We studied 30 consecutive patients with BPPV of the posterior semicircular canal treated with the Epley repositioning maneuver. SVV was determined at three different stages: at the time of diagnosis (1st test), after the repositioning maneuver (2nd test), and then 7 days after the resolution of the clinical picture (3rd test). The main study parameter was represented by the mean of 6 consecutive measurements (SVV(0)) for each patient. SVV was also examined in 20 healthy subjects, who represented the control group. The comparison between mean values and standard deviations showed a statistical significance of p<0.05.


During the first test, the degree of deviation of SVV was significantly higher in the patient group than in the control group. Tilting towards the affected side was observed in all cases. The 2nd test showed an inversion in the orientation of SVV in 16 patients, and as a result of the Epley maneuver there was a statistically significant variation in SVV(0) values in 20 patients with respect to the previous test (2nd test vs. 1st test). This involved 87% (23 patients) of those who then had a negative Dix-Hallpike test, and none of the ones in whom paroxysmal positional nystagmus persisted. Lastly, no differences emerged in the behavior of the patient group vs. the control group during the third test.


SVV is often altered during active BPPV. The degree of otolithic dysfunction is never high and, in all cases, it is brief in duration. Tilting towards the dysfunctional side is essentially a constant in untreated BPPV. This could be due to a substantial loss of otoconia, with a decrease in the density and specific weight of the macula, and thus hypofunction of the receptor. The observation of a significant variation in SVV after therapeutic maneuvers has a favorable predictive value, as it probably reflects the migration of otoliths to the utricle, where saturation mechanisms can often have irritative effects leading to the inversion of SVV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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