Evaluation of vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) and electrocochleography for the diagnosis of Ménière's disease

Pauliana Lamounier, Thiago Silva Almeida de Souza, Debora Aparecida Gobbo, Fayez Bahmad
Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology 2017, 83 (4): 394-403

INTRODUCTION: Ménière's disease (MD) is an inner ear disorder characterized by episodic vertigo, tinnitus, ear fullness, and fluctuating hearing. Its diagnosis can be especially difficult in cases where vestibular symptoms are present in isolation (vestibular MD). The definitive diagnosis is made histologically and can only be performed post-mortem, after analysis of the temporal bone. Endolymphatic hydrops is a histopathological finding of the disease and occurs more often in the cochlea and saccule, followed by the utricle and semicircular canals. Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) emerged as the method of assessment of vestibular function in 1994. Until then, there was no unique way of assessing saccular function and the inferior vestibular nerve. Given that the saccule is responsible for most cases of severe hydrops, VEMP appears as a new tool to assist in the diagnosis of MD.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of VEMP and electrocochleography (EcochG) in the diagnosis of definite MD compared with clinical diagnosis.

METHODS: The study includes 12 patients (24 ears) diagnosed with definite MD defined according to the clinical criteria proposed by the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) in 1995, as well as 12 healthy volunteers allocated to the control group (24 ears). A clinical diagnosis by the AAO-HNS criteria was considered as the gold standard. All patients underwent an otoneurological examination, including pure tone and speech audiometry, VEMP, and extratympanic EcochG. The sensitivity and specificity to detect the presence or absence of disease were calculated, as well as their 95% confidence intervals. The reliability of VEMP and EcochG in both ears was assessed using the kappa index.

RESULTS: In both tests and in both ears, the ability to diagnose healthy cases was high, with specificity ranging from 84.6% to 100%. Moreover, the ability of the tests to diagnose the disease varied from low to moderate sensitivity, with values ranging from 37.5% to 63.6%. The agreement of both tests in the right ear, measured by the kappa coefficient, was equal to 0.54 (95% CI: 0.20-0.89), indicating a moderate agreement. In the left ear, that agreement was equal to 0.07 (95% CI: -0.33 to 0.46), indicating a weak correlation between the tests. The sensitivity of the VEMP for the right ear was 63.6% and for the left ear, 62.5%. The sensitivity of EcochG for the right ear was 63.6% and 37.5% for the left ear.

CONCLUSION: The specificity of both tests was high, and the sensitivity of VEMP was higher than that of EcochG.

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