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Poorly Diagnostic Findings

Peripheral Vertigo: Sensitivity and Specificity

Introduction: Remember that vertigo describes a spinning sensation. "Dizziness" as a symptom can refer to many different things, e.g. presyncope. There are two major categories within vertigo: central and peripheral lesions.

Peripheral causes of vertigo involve dysfunction of the vestibular apparatus or nerve.

This includes many specific causes, including:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Vestibular Neuritis
  • Meniere's Disease
  • See the UpToDate article:

    [Edit Diagnosis] [Merge dx] [Add prevalence]

    Tags: Neurologic Tag this Diagnosis.


    Population / CalculatorPrevalence Comments / Study / Link
    Patients with dizziness 40% Am J Med 1999 Nov;107(5):468-78. PMID 10569302
    More, Edit...

    The sensitivity and specificity of findings for Peripheral Vertigo are listed below. See the left navigation bar to change the display.

    Specific Findings

    Finding SensitivitySpecificity Comments, Study
    Head Impulse Test Edit 35%95%

    from UpToDate: "The head thrust test is performed by instructing the patient to keep his or her eyes on a distant target while wearing his usual prescription eyeglasses. The head is then turned quickly and unpredictably by the examiner, about 15º; the starting position should be about 10º from the primary position in the orbit. This is sometimes called the head impulse test.

    The normal response is that the eyes remain on the target. The abnormal response is that the eyes are dragged off of the target by the head turn (in one direction), followed by a saccade back to the target after the head turn; this response indicates a deficient VOR on the side of the head turn, implying a peripheral vestibular lesion (inner ear or vestibular nerve) on that side."

    Study: Am J Otol. 1997 Mar;18(2):207-13. PMID 9093678

    Poorly Diagnostic Findings

    Finding SensitivitySpecificity Comments, Study
    Matutinal Vertigo Edit 51%69%

    this is vertigo upon awakening in the morning

    for a peripheral lesion

    Study: JAMA. 1994;271(5):385-388.

    Dix-Hallpike Maneuver Edit Sensitivity = 78%

    for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

    specificity not assessed

    Study: JAMA. 1994;271:385-388.