Head-shaking aids in the diagnosis of acute audiovestibular loss due to anterior inferior cerebellar artery infarction

Young Eun Huh, Ja-Won Koo, Hyung Lee, Ji-Soo Kim
Audiology & Neuro-otology 2013, 18 (2): 114-24

OBJECTIVE: To determine the patterns and diagnostic value of head-shaking nystagmus (HSN) in patients with acute audiovestibular loss.

METHOD: Eighteen patients underwent evaluation of spontaneous nystagmus, gaze-evoked nystagmus, HSN, head impulse test, ocular tilt reaction, subjective visual vertical, bithermal caloric tests, and pure-tone audiogram. The findings were compared with those of 21 patients with labyrinthitis.

RESULTS: Fifteen patients (83%) exhibited HSN, and the horizontal HSN usually beat contralesionally (10/14, 71%). However, 9 (50%) patients also showed patterns of central HSN that included perverted HSN (n=7), HSN in the opposite direction of spontaneous nystagmus (n=4), and HSN beating towards unilateral canal paresis or abnormal head impulse testing (n=3). Overall, central HSN, gaze-evoked nystagmus, and normal head impulse testing were specific for anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) infarction. Moreover, central HSN was the only sign that indicated stroke in 1 of our patients with isolated audiovestibular syndrome. Lesion subtraction analyses revealed that damage to the flocculus was relatively frequent in patients with perverted HSN.

CONCLUSIONS: In AICA infarction, HSN was common with both peripheral and central patterns. Careful evaluation of HSN may provide clues for AICA infarction in patients with acute audiovestibular loss.

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