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

7 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: We wish to acknowledge R. Abayo Itabiyi, MPH, Kidist Dimore, and Ali N. Stockness, MPH for their assistance with participant enrollment, data collection, and quality control. This study was funded by the Lion’s International Hearing Foundation (E.A.K., M.E.A.). This project, by utilizing REDCap, was also supported by NIH/NCRR Colorado CTSI Grant Number UL1 RR025780. Its contents are the authors’ sole responsibility and do not necessarily represent official NIH views.

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