The ten-minute examination of the dizzy patient

J. A. Goebel

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36 Scopus citations


Dizziness and postural instability are common presenting complaints in patients seen in otolaryngology practice. Unfortunately, these patients frequently do not receive optimal evaluation and therapy because of the difficulty in obtaining a thorough yet pertinent history and the perceived complexity of the physical examination. Over the last 10 years, we have utilized a standardized approach to evaluation of the dizzy patient that is user friendly and maximizes the time and effort spent by the clinician. First, a thorough history is taken from the patient in two forms: (1) a specially designed questionnaire filled out well before the examination and (2) a direct interview using the answers on the questionnaire as a guide. During the physical examination, emphasis is placed on the following subtests: (1) spontaneous nystagmus; (2) central oculomotor function; (3) the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) battery - headshake, head thrust, dynamic visual acuity, and Hallpike positioning; (4) coordination; (5) posture; (6) gait; and (7) special examinations. This neurotologic examination is completed in about 10 minutes and is performed as a battery of tests following the routine otolaryngologic and/or neurologic examination. We feel that this test sequence is thorough yet easy to perform and ideally will demystify the examination of these challenging patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-398
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Balance
  • Physical examination
  • Vertigo
  • Vestibular ocular reflex


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