Evaluation of patients with acute vestibular syndrome

Elsaeid Thabet
European Archives of Oto-rhino-laryngology 2008, 265 (3): 341-9
Acute vestibular syndrome is characterized by a rapid unilateral injury to either peripheral or central vestibular structures. It consists of severe vertigo, nausea and vomiting, spontaneous nystagmus, and postural instability. In many cases, a peripheral etiology is considered although it may be due to an underlying serious central pathology. The present study was designed to investigate the feasibility of differentiating the cause of acute vestibular syndrome in such patients using clinical, audiovestibular and radiologic tools. We performed a case series study of patients complaining of acute vertigo at a university referring center for hearing and balance disorders. Thirty patients with history of acute vertigo within 3 days onset with no history of previous otological or neurological disorders. Eighteen patients were due to acute peripheral vestibular lesion, 1 due to psychiatric illness under antidepressant drugs and 11 were of central vestibular lesion. The most important step in the diagnosis of acute vertigo is a thorough and detailed history. The common error of carrying out investigations in place of a detailed history is to be avoided. The clinical evaluation has the highest sensitivity and specificity in differentiating central from peripheral vestibular lesions.


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