Diagnosis and management of vertigo

G M Halmagyi
Clinical Medicine: Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 2005, 5 (2): 159-65
Vertigo is an illusion of rotation due to a disorder of the vestibular system, almost always peripheral. In the history it must be distinguished from pre-syncope, seizures and panic attacks. A single attack of acute, isolated spontaneous vertigo lasting a day or more is due either to vestibular neuritis or cerebellar infarction; distinguishing between the two requires mastery of the head impulse test. Recurrent vertigo is mostly due to benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo (BPPV), Meniere's disease or migraine. With a good history, a positional test, an audiogram and a caloric test, it is usually possible to distinguish between these. BPPV is the single most common cause of recurrent vertigo and can usually be cured immediately with a particle repositioning manoeuvre. Posterior circulation ischaemia very rarely causes isolated vertigo attacks and when it does the attacks are brief and frequent and the history is short.

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