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JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Skull vibration induced nystagmus test]

G Dumas, C De Waele, K F Hamann, B Cohen, M Negrevergne, E Ulmer, S Schmerber
Annales D'oto-laryngologie et de Chirurgie Cervico Faciale 2007, 124 (4): 173-83
17678612

OBJECTIVES: To establish during a consensus meeting the fundamental basis, the validity criteria, the main indications and results of the skull vibration induced nystagmus test (SVINT) which explores the vestibule high frequencies.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The SVINT is applied on the mastoid process (right and left sides) at 100 Hz during 10 seconds on a sitting upright subject. Total unilateral peripheral lesions (tUVL: operated vestibular shwannomas, vestibular neurectomies) and partial unilateral peripheral lesions (pUVL: preoperative neuromas, Meniere's disease, vestibular neuritis, chemical labyrinthectomies) were studied. Thirty-six patients had brainstem lesions and 173 normal subjects were used as controls.

RESULTS: The SVINT is considered positive when the application of the vibrator produces a reproducible sustained nystagmus always beating in the same direction following several trials in various stimulation topographies (on the right and left mastoid). The skull vibratory nystagmus (SVN) begins and ends with the stimulation; the direction of the nystagmus has no secondary reversal. The slow phase velocity (SPV) is>2 degrees /second. In tUVL the SVINT always reveals a lesional nystagmus beating toward the safe side at all frequencies. The mean SVN SPV is 10.8 degrees /s+/-7.5 SD (N=45). The mastoid site was more efficient than the cervical or vertex sites. Mastoïd stimulation efficiency is not correlated with the side of stimulation. The SVN SPV is correlated with the total caloric efficiency on the healthy ear. In pUVL the SVINT is positive in 71 to 76% of cases; the mean SVN. SPV (6.7 degrees /s+/-4.7 SD)(N=30) is significantly lower than in tUVL (P=0.0004). SVINT is positive in 6 to 10% of the normal population, 31% of brain stem lesions and negative in total bilateral vestibular peripheral lesions.

CONCLUSIONS: SVINT is an effective, rapid and non invasive test used to detect vestibular asymmetry between 20 to 150 Hz stimulation. This test used in important cohorts of patients during the ten last years has demonstrated no observable adverse effect. SVINT complements other tests which evaluate lower frequencies (caloric test: 0,003 Hz) and the medium frequencies (Head-Shaking-Test (HST): 2 Hz; the head impulse test (HIT): 6 Hz). SVINT is useful in the diagnosis of labyrinthine hydrops or detection of acoustic neuromas. It is useful when the caloric test can not be practised because of middle ear problems. SVINT has its limits: in pUVL, the nystagmus direction is not always specific of the pathologic side and can change with the stimulus frequency. This test does not precisely point out the level of the lesion on the vestibular pathway.

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