Current treatment of vestibular, ocular motor disorders and nystagmus

Michael Strupp, Thomas Brandt
Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders 2009, 2 (4): 223-39
Vertigo and dizziness are among the most common complaints with a lifetime prevalence of about 30%. The various forms of vestibular disorders can be treated with pharmacological therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapeutic measures or, rarely, surgery. In this review, the current pharmacological treatment options for peripheral and central vestibular, cerebellar and ocular motor disorders will be described. They are as follows for peripheral vestibular disorders. In vestibular neuritis recovery of the peripheral vestibular function can be improved by treatment with oral corticosteroids. In Menière's disease a recent study showed long-term high-dose treatment with betahistine has a significant effect on the frequency of the attacks. The use of aminopyridines introduced a new therapeutic principle in the treatment of downbeat and upbeat nystagmus and episodic ataxia type 2 (EA 2). These potassium channel blockers presumably increase the activity and excitability of cerebellar Purkinje cells, thereby augmenting the inhibitory influence of these cells on vestibular and cerebellar nuclei. A few studies showed that baclofen improves periodic alternating nystagmus, and gabapentin and memantine, pendular nystagmus. However, many other eye movement disorders such as ocular flutter opsoclonus, central positioning, or see-saw nystagmus are still difficult to treat. Although progress has been made in the treatment of vestibular neuritis, downbeat and upbeat nystagmus, as well as EA 2, state-of-the-art trials must still be performed on many vestibular and ocular motor disorders, namely Menière's disease, bilateral vestibular failure, vestibular paroxysmia, vestibular migraine, and many forms of central eye movement disorders.

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