Key Points about Vestibular Testing
- Vestibular function testing, also known as vestibular testing, are tests that can help your doctor diagnose inner ear conditions that may be affecting your hearing or balance.
- You may require vestibular testing if your doctor suspects you have an inner ear condition that is affecting your balance or hearing.
- Types of vestibular testing include electronystagmography, videonystagmography, rotary chair testing, computerized dynamic visual activity, computerized dynamic posturography, subjective visual vertical, and vestibular evoked myogenic potential.
Vestibular testing is a series of tests used to evaluate your hearing function.
Your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and evaluate the results from vestibular function testing to assess the vestibular system function and rule out causes of your symptoms.
Vestibular testing can determine if problems in the inner ear are causing dizziness, vertigo, or balance issues. Once the problem is diagnosed, your doctor can develop a customized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms.
An audiologist or otolaryngologist will order and perform these tests.
Candidates for a vestibular test
Your doctor will order vestibular testing to diagnose issues in the inner ear that may be affecting your hearing or balance.
Risks associated with a vestibular test
Vestibular testing is safe. While you may experience nausea or dizziness during the testing, it generally goes away quickly.
Types of vestibular tests
A complete evaluation of the inner ear may require a series of different tests to correctly diagnose what is causing your symptoms. Tests may include:
Electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG)
ENGs and VNGs record eye movements to examine the inner ear function. Your doctor will record eye movements in the following situations:
- Following a visual target
- As you change positions
- To evaluate how you respond when cold or warm air or water is placed in your ear
- During rapid eye movement
- During an ENG test, your audiologist will place electrodes near the eyes to record eye movements, while during a VNG test, a video camera is placed inside eye goggles
Rotary Chair Test
A rotary chair test is used in patients who have suspected issues on both sides of the vestibular system. The test measures your response to a variety of head movements.
During the test, you will sit in a computerized chair with electrodes placed near your eyes to record your eye movements. A rotary chair test takes approximately 30 minutes.
Computerized Dynamic Visual Activity (DVA)
DVA is testing that evaluates how your vestibular problem affects your vision during movement. During the test, you will be given an eye test.
While sitting still, you will be asked to identify which way the letter “E” is pointing. The test will be repeated while movement is simulated.
DVA can determine if your brain is compensating for the vestibular issues. It also can measure the change in your vestibular ocular reflex after vestibular rehab.
Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP)
CDP is a group of tests used to evaluate how well a patient uses their visual, vestibular, and sensory systems for balance.
There are three primary tests during CDP including:
- Sensory organization test - this test can measure how your body sways under different conditions.
- Adaption test - an adaption test measures a patient’s reflex reactions to unexpected forward movements.
- Motor control test - a motor control test measures your reflexes during unexpected backward movements.
CDP tests are generally performed by a physical therapist.
Subjective Visual Vertical
Your doctor may order a subjective visual vertical to evaluate how your inner ear senses gravity.
A subjective visual vertical test is effective in diagnosing:
- Vestibular neuritis
- Injury to the inner ear
- Damage to the nerve that transfers information from the inner ear to the brain
Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)
A VEMP test can evaluate if the organs in the inner ear and vestibular nerves are functioning correctly.
VEMP testing is highly effective in diagnosing:
- Vestibular neuritis
- Acoustic neuromas
- Bilateral vestibular loss due to medication use or Meniere’s disease.