Understanding Vestibular Testing: Assessing Inner Ear Balance & Function

VESTIBULAR SYSTEM

Vestibular system comprises of the inner ear’s vestibular organ, the associated nerves and centers in the brain. It is a complex system and helps the body to maintain a good balance and stability.

SYMPTOMS

  • Common vestibular symptoms include dizziness, vertigo and imbalance.
  • Secondary symptoms may include nausea, ringing in the ears (or tinnitus), hearing loss, and cognitive impairent.

VESTIBULAR TESTING

  • Vestibular testing checks how the balance system within your  inner ear  (vestibular organ) is working.
  • ENT doctor  may recomend vestibular testing if you have symptoms of  dizziness, vertigo or if you are feeling off balance. 
  • The vestibular testing  evaluate the  parts of the vestibular system in detail for further analysis.

HOW DO VESTIBULAR TESTS WORK ?

  • An Audiologist who specialize in assessing the hearing  and balance disorders guides you through various simple tasks .
  • The tests recommend for an individual will measure how your body controls the balance and stability in different modes (vision movement, touch and inner ear balance system)

HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE VESTIBULAR TESTING?

  • Someone (family members) can drive you home after the testing is done. you may feel dizzy after the evaluation,.
  • To follow the medication  before the test provided by the consult doctor. Some medications may interfere the evaluation/ result.
  • To follow the recommend  small food or drink before the test. Avoid alcohol
  • Do not wear eye makeup-its important to see all eye movements during the evaluation.

VESTIBULAR TESTS

The vestibular tests use equipment to monitor the eyes for normal and abnormal movements when the vestibular system is stimulated.

Video Nystagmus Graphy (VNG)-

An Audiologist measures your eye movements as you perform simple tasks. Patient uses a goggle with video cameras to monitor the eyes. Usually these tests are done in low lighting. The patient would be assessed when following a visual target, head movement, caloric testing[administering warm and  cool air or water]. The eye movements[ Nystagmus]  would be recorded.

Video Head Impulse test [ VHIT]

It uses very small and quick movement of the head to evaluate the reflex function. The audiologist will move your head to the right and left or up and down. They’ll note how successfully your eyes stay focused on the target with your head in motion.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP –

This testing provides information about how your inner ear (saccule and utricle) function. For this test, electrodes will be placed on your neck with headphones in the ear.  The electrodes will record your neck muscles response to the sound signals.

ELECTROCOCHLEOGRAPHY

This test records the electric potential of the cochlea of the inner ear in response to sounds. Its helpful in diagnosing Meniere’s disease.

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