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J Neurol. 2012 Aug;259(8):1553-60. doi: 10.1007/s00415-011-6375-4. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Inferior vestibular neuritis.

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Department of Neurology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, 300 Gumi-dong, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do 463-707, South Korea.


Vestibular neuritis (VN) mostly involves the superior portion of the vestibular nerve and labyrinth. This study aimed to describe the clinical features of VN involving the inferior vestibular labyrinth and its afferents only. Of the 703 patients with a diagnosis of VN or labyrinthitis at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital from 2004 to 2010, we retrospectively recruited 9 patients (6 women, age range 15-75) with a diagnosis of isolated inferior VN. Diagnosis of isolated inferior VN was based on torsional downbeating spontaneous nystagmus, abnormal head-impulse test (HIT) for the posterior semicircular canal (PC), and abnormal cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) in the presence of normally functioning horizontal and anterior semicircular canals, as determined by normal HIT and bithermal caloric tests. All patients presented with acute vertigo with nausea, vomiting, and imbalance. Three patients also had tinnitus and hearing loss in the involved side. The rotation axis of torsional downbeating spontaneous nystagmus was best aligned with that of the involved PC. HIT was also positive only for the involved PC. Cervical VEMP was abnormal in seven patients, and ocular VEMP was normal in all four patients tested. Ocular torsion and subjective visual vertical tests were mostly within the normal range. Since isolated inferior VN lacks the typical findings of much more prevalent superior VN, it may be mistaken for a central vestibular disorder. Recognition of this rare disorder may help avoid unnecessary workups in patients with acute vestibulopathy.

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