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Acta Otolaryngol. 1995 Jan;115(1):9-17.

Vestibular function test anomalies in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Otology and Laryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is distinguished by the new onset of debilitating fatigue that lasts at least 6 months, concomitant with other symptoms to be described later. Many CFS patients complain of disequilibrium, yet the exact type of the balance dysfunction and its function and its location (peripheral vs. central) have not been described. Herein we report results of vestibular function testing performed on 11 CFS patients. These results revealed no predominant pattern of abnormalities. Patients typically performed below average in dynamic posturography testing, with a significant number of falls in the tests requiring subjects to depend heavily on the vestibular system. One patient had abnormal caloric testing, while 3 had abnormally low earth vertical axis rotation (EVA) gains at the higher frequencies tested. As a group, the average gain of EVA was significantly lower than normals in the 0.1 - 1.0 Hz range (p < 0.05). In earth horizontal axis rotation, the CFS group had a higher than normal bias value for the optokinetic (OKN) and eyes open in the dark conditions (p < 0.05), but had normal scores during visual vestibular reflex testing. Five of the 11 subjects had an abnormal OKN bias build up over the course of the run, equal to or actually exceeding the 60 degrees/s target velocity by as much as 14 degrees/s. Altogether, these results are more suggestive of central nervous system deficits than of peripheral vestibular disfunction.

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