Vestibular testing: Patient perceptions, morbidity, and opportunity costs

Elizabeth A. Kelly, Catherine Stocker, Carly M. Kempton, Darcia M. Dierking, Hannah E. Fehlberg, Meredith E. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize patient tolerance and nonmonetary cost burdens of vestibular testing. Rigorously acquired data are essential for patient counseling and to determine if proposed additions/modifications to current protocols improve quality, experience, and efficiencies of care. Study Design: Prospective observational study. Setting: Tertiary center. Patients: 130 adults (67% women, mean age 55 yr), referred to audiology clinic for vestibular testing. Intervention(s): Surveys administered to patients and audiologists immediately and 1 week following videonystagmography (VNG) with caloric and/or rotary chair (RC) testing. Main Outcome Measure(s): Symptoms, visual analog scale ratings of dizziness, distress, and nausea during testing; test completion; and opportunity costs (time, missed work). Results: Seventy-five patients (58%) experienced undesirable symptoms during testing, including nausea (50%), vomiting (5%), and headaches (12%). Distress and nausea ratings during testing were low (<3/10), with RC ratings lower than VNG. Nineteen patients (15%) discontinued testing early, rating distress and nausea two to three times higher than those who completed testing (p < 0.05). Greater dizziness was associated with younger age and female sex, not migraine and total eye speed. Women had increased distress. Test times were 71 [23] and 26 [13] minutes for VNG with calorics and RC, respectively. Testing required 48% to miss work (range 2–120 h) and 78% obtained assistance to/from testing. Posttest symptoms included drowsiness/fatigue (44%), nausea (31%), and headache (33%). Conclusions: This work provides baseline patient tolerance data for vestibular testing. While eliciting distress ratings comparable to other in-office otolaryngology procedures, there are high frequencies of undesirable symptoms, posttest morbidity, and opportunity costs. Key Words: Caloric testing—Patient morbidity—Patient perceptions—Rotary chair—Vestibular testing—Videonystagmography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1222-1228
Number of pages7
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2018

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© 2018, Otology & Neurotology, Inc.


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