Multiple positional nystagmus suggests multiple canal involvement in benign paroxysmal vertigo

Jose A Lopez-Escamez, Maria I Molina, Maria Gamiz, Antonio J Fernandez-Perez, Manuel Gomez, Maria J Palma, Cristobal Zapata
Acta Oto-laryngologica 2005, 125 (9): 954-61

CONCLUSION: Video-oculography demonstrates a higher occurrence of atypical positional nystagmus in patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This includes anterior and horizontal canal variants and multiple positional nystagmus, suggesting combined lesions affecting several canals.

OBJECTIVE: To analyse the video-oculographic findings of positional tests in patients with BPPV.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Seventy individuals with symptoms of BPPV and positional nystagmus were included in this study. The diagnosis was based on a history of brief episodes of vertigo and the presence of positional nystagmus as confirmed by video-oculographic examination during the Dix-Hallpike test, the McClure test or the head-hanging manoeuvre. Patients were treated by means of different particle repositioning manoeuvres according to the affected canal (Epley's manoeuvre for the posterior or anterior canals and Lempert's manoeuvre for the lateral canal) and the effectiveness was evaluated at 7 and 30 days.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine individuals (41.43%) presented an affected unilateral posterior canal. Fifteen patients (21.43%) presented a pure horizontal direction-changing positional nystagmus consistent with a diagnosis of horizontal canal BPPV. Twelve individuals (17.14%) presented a unilateral down-beating nystagmus, suggesting possible anterior canal BPPV. In addition, 14 patients (20%) showed multiple positional nystagmus during the examination corresponding to simultaneous multi-canal BPPV, 5 had bilateral posterior canal BPPV and 2 presented a positional down-beating nystagmus in both left and right Dix-Hallpike manoeuvres and the head-hanging manoeuvre, which is highly suggestive of anterior canal BPPV. However, seven individuals showed positional horizontal and vertical side-changing nystagmus that could not be explained by single-canal BPPV. These patients with multiple positional nystagmus showed changing patterns of positional nystagmus at follow-up.

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