Evaluating the role of single-photon emission computed tomography in the assessment of neurotologic complaints

May 7, 2014     Shruti S. Joglekar, MD; Jason R. Bell, MD; Malka Caroline, MD; Paul J. Chase, DO, FAOCR; James Domesek, MD; Pinal S. Patel, ARRT, CNMT; Robert T. Sataloff, MD, DMA, FACS


We conducted a retrospective study to reexamine the value of single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in the evaluation of patients with neurotologic complaints, and to assess the intra- and inter-radiologist variability of SPECT readings. Our study population was made up of 63 patients-23 men and 40 women, aged 34 to 91 years (mean: 59)-who had presented to a tertiary care otolaryngology practice and university hospital for evaluation of head trauma, sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or vertigo. All patients had undergone brain scanning with SPECT during their evaluation, and almost all had also undergone magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and standard computed tomography (CT). We compared the findings of all three imaging modalities in terms of their ability to detect neurotologic abnormalities. We found that detection rates were very similar among the three modalities; abnormalities were found in 24% of SPECT scans, 26% of MRIs, and 23% of CTs. Nevertheless, we did find that among 60 patients who underwent all three types of imaging, 13 (22%) exhibited areas of cerebral hypoperfusion on SPECT while their MRIs and CTs were read as either normal or nonspecific. In all, 18 of these 60 patients (30%) exhibited normal or nonspecific findings on all three types of imaging. In addition, when SPECT scans were read by the same radiologist at different times, different results were reported for 17 of the 63 scans (27%). Likewise, when SPECT scans were read by different radiologists, different results were reported for 21 of 63 scans (33%). We conclude that SPECT may be a valuable complementary diagnostic modality for making a comprehensive neurotologic evaluation and that it may detect abnormalities in some patients whose other imaging is read as normal. However, we did not find that SPECT was the most sensitive of the three modalities in neurotologic evaluation, as we had previously found in a preliminary study that the senior author (R.T.S.) published in 1996. In addition, with respect to our radiologists, both their intra- and inter-reader reliability was low, and we recommend additional study on this matter.

Dizziness in the elderly: Diagnosing its causes in a multidisciplinary dizziness unit

May 7, 2014     Roeland B. van Leeuwen, MD, PhD; Tjasse D. Bruintjes, MD, PhD


We conducted a study to determine the causes of dizziness in patients aged 70 years and older who had been referred to our multidisciplinary dizziness clinic between Nov. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2008. This population was made up of 731 patients-254 men (34.7%) and 477 women (65.3%). During their consultations, all of these patients were evaluated simultaneously by an ENT surgeon and a neurologist. We were able to identify the cause of dizziness in 620 of these patients (84.8%). The two most common causes were benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which was found in 202 patients (27.6%), and hyperventilation/anxiety, which was diagnosed in 112 patients (15.3%). Based on our findings, we conclude that the cause of dizziness can be established in the vast majority of elderly patients. We also compare our findings in these older patients with those of a group of 2,556 younger patients who were seen at our hospital and with the findings reported in other studies.

Inferior vestibular neuritis in a fighter pilot: A case report

June 11, 2013     Xie Su Jiang, MD, PhD; Jia Hong Bo, PhD; Xu Po, MS; and Zheng Ying Juan, BSC


Spatial disorientation in airplane pilots is a leading factor in many fatal flying accidents. Spatial orientation is the product of integrative inputs from the proprioceptive, vestibular, and visual systems. One condition that can lead to sudden pilot incapacitation in flight is vestibular neuritis. Vestibular neuritis is commonly diagnosed by a finding of unilateral vestibular failure, such as a loss of caloric response. However, because caloric response testing reflects the function of only the superior part of the vestibular nerve, it cannot detect cases of neuritis in only the inferior part of the nerve. We describe the case of a Chinese naval command fighter pilot who exhibited symptoms suggestive of vestibular neuritis but whose caloric response test results were normal. Further testing showed a unilateral loss of vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs). We believe that this pilot had pure inferior nerve vestibular neuritis. VEMP testing plays a major role in the diagnosis of inferior nerve vestibular neuritis in pilots. We also discuss this issue in terms of aeromedical concerns.

Bilateral multicanal benign paroxysmal positional vertigo coexisting with a vestibular schwannoma: Case report

January 1, 2011     Selmin Karatayli-Ozgursoy, MD, Greta C. Stamper, AuD, Larry B. Lundy, MD, and David A. Zapala, PhD


We describe a rarely encountered case of coexisting bilateral multicanal benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vestibular schwannoma in a 56-year-old woman. The patient had presented with a 10-year history of dizziness and imbalance, and her vestibular findings were perplexing. We decided on a working diagnosis of BPPV and began treatment. After several months of canalith repositioning maneuvers had failed to resolve her symptoms, we obtained magnetic resonance imaging, which revealed the presence of the vestibular schwannoma. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of differentiating between central and peripheral vestibular disorders, as well as central and anterior canal BPPV-induced down-beating nystagmus in order to establish the correct diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment.

The clinical reliability of vestibular evoked myogenic potentials

March 31, 2010     Matthew L. Bush, MD, Raleigh O. Jones, MD, and Jennifer B. Shinn, PhD


Vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) testing has gained popularity as a diagnostic modality in otolaryngology and audiology. To maximize the utility of this test, examiners need the availability of ideal test settings and reliable norms. We conducted a prospective study of 8 subjects with no history of neurotologic symptoms to examine the test-retest consistency of VEMP testing and to analyze the impact of stimulus type and muscle tension monitoring. All subjects underwent VEMP testing with two stimuli: a 500-Hz tone and a click. With each stimulus, testing was completed with and without monitoring of sternocleidomastoid muscle tension. All subjects participated in an initial testing session and then returned for a repeat testing session 2 to 4 weeks later. We measured the amplitude of primary waveforms P13 (first positive peak) and N23 (first negative peak) and analyzed the reliability and reproducibility of the mean amplitude asymmetry of these VEMP peaks. The P13 component of the VEMP (specificity: 86.25%) demonstrated a more stable amplitude than did the N23 component (specificity: 70.50%). Therefore, our statistical analysis of the effect of stimulus type and muscle tension monitoring on test-retest reliability was limited to the P13 waveform. We found that neither the type of stimulus nor the presence or absence of muscle tension monitoring had any statistically significant effect on amplitude asymmetry. We concluded that in VEMP testing, the P13 component was more specific than the N23 component in identifying normal subjects and that the P13 component provided consistent results across test sessions, regardless of the type of stimulus or the presence or absence of muscle tension monitoring.

Pediatric neurotology

July 31, 2009     Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, MS, FRCSC

Dizziness in a SCUBA diver

April 30, 2009     Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, MS, FRCSC

Can a disorder of the vestibular system underlie an etiology for migraine?

April 30, 2008     Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, FRCSC

Clinical findings in a patient with aural fullness

February 1, 2008     Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, FRCSC


October 31, 2007     Mohamed Hamid, MD, PhD and Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, FRCSC

Clinical management of a patient with a 12-year history of a balance disorder

July 31, 2007     Kenneth H. Brookler, MD, FRCSC; Mohamed A. Hamid, MD, PhD

A 69-year-old man presented with a 12-year history of balance difficulties. He had been admitted to a hospital 12 years earlier for treatment of nausea, vomiting, and left-upper-quadrant pain, and he was given intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Treatment alleviated his symptoms, but he noticed that once he was out of bed, he was unable to maintain his balance and had to hold on to the IV pole. Ever since then, his symptoms had persisted.


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