Category Archives: Acute Vestibular Syndrome

Isolated Skew Deviation

Here’s a very peculiar case of a 63yr male with acute vertical diplopia, more pronounced when looking down which makes him feel dizzy and unstable all the time especially when looking downwards. He came to my office 7 days after the beginning of his symptoms.

The only thing I’ve noticed was skew deviation discovered at cross cover test with the hyperphoria of the right eye and hypophoria of the left eye.

I’ve asked for MRI which disclosed a punktiform lesion at mesencephalon.

Skew Deviation

Skew deviation

Skew deviation
This case is open for discussion.

Wallenberg or lateral medullary syndrome

74yr woman with acute vestibular syndrome 10days old, but with still pronounced instability.
She has diabetes and hypertension.
On first day she was hypertensive 200mmHg and with described 3rd grade of Ny to the right. Because CT was ok she was dismissed.
On a second day again at emergency unit there was not described Ny nor any of neurological deficits.
She complains on instability, light headache at frontal part, weakness in left hand and left leg; hoarseness and difficult swallowing (feeling like she is going to choke, but she didn’t).

She can’t stand alone nor sit without support.
There’s no spontaneous Ny, but discrete gaze evoked to the left (when looking slight upwards) with slight torsional cw component.
Horner’s sign on the left side. (slight ptosis, with miosis and facial anhydrosis)
Left side of face was less sensitive and palatal reflex absent, but normal function of the vocal folds. Cerebellar sign showed bradikinesia at both sides and dysmetria at left side.
Head impulse test was slightly positive to the left (hardly visible, not obvious).

VHIT: showed slight reduction of the VOR to the left, but what was strange it varied (sometimes good, sometimes bad, but without compensatory saccades)

stroke-vhit-bad VHIT stroke PICA

VNG (tracking and saccades in horizontal plane): Saccades showed frequent hypometria and some increase in latency to the left, but smooth pursuit was normal at both sides, just slighly saccadic at high frequencies.
VNG hypometric saccades
MRI showed left medullary infarction and also diffuse hemosiderin deposit at left cerebellar hemisphere

Lateral medullary syndrome Lateral medullary infarction

Some comments on a case and advice:
CT scan has NO diagnostic value in evaluating patients with AVS.
Here’s the patient with AVS and risk factors for stroke.
Head impulse test wasn’t done at emergency unit.
Ny on a first day was mimicking Ny of peripheral origin, but it should be very suspicions not to have it on a second day!
Pronounced truncal ataxia is not characteristic for peripheral lesion.
Head impulse test can be positive in central lesions (stroke) as well, because ear get’s blood supply from AICA (sometimes PICA).
Gaze evoked Ny especially with torsional component should bring suspicion to central lesion.
Slight headache can be seen in patients with vestibular neuritis as well, but it’s more characteristic sign of central pathology, especially when it is pronounced.
Fully developed and pronounced neurological signs of Wallenberg syndrome like it is described in textbooks you would not see in the clinical practice.

Acute Isolated Utricular Lesion

Woman 66yr with symptoms of acute vestibular syndrome comes three weeks later to our office with complaints of slight instability, oscillopsia and vertigo with abrupt head movements.
No spont Ny, head-impulse neg. positional tests neg.
VHIT, calotic test and cVEMP didn’t show any pathological finding
BUT oVEMP showed left utricular deficit. SVV also confirmed it: -2.7
VNG and MRI excluded any central pathology.
oVEMP utriculus
In this patient acute vestibular syndrome can be ascribed to isolated acute utricular lesion. Lesion of the left utriculus is proven by pathological oVEMP and SVV while other tests showed good function of the semicircular canals and sacculus. Central pathology was excluded by VNG and MRI showing normal findings. We regret we didn’t have an opportunity to record ocular fundus for cyclotorsion.

Patients with acute vestibular syndrome but with good results on VHIT and caloric test should be tested by VEMPs for otolithic function also. Isolated acute utricular lesion might not be so rare cause of acute vestibular syndrome, as it is probably often unrecognized.
Except looking for oculomotor signs in patient with acute vestibular syndrome the attention should be payed to head position as lateropulsion might be a sign of utricular lesion.

Something on this topic:
1. Magliulo G, Iannella G, Gagliardi S, Re M. A 1-year follow-up study with C-VEMPs, O-VEMPs and video head impulse testing in vestibular neuritis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2015;272(11):3277-81.
2. Blödow A, Helbig R, Bloching M, Walther LE. Isolated functional loss of the lateral semicircular canal in vestibular neuritis. HNO. 2013;61(1):46-51.
3. Manzari L, Burgess AM, Curthoys IS. Does unilateral utricular dysfunction cause horizontal spontaneous nystagmus? Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2012;269(11):2441-5.
4. Manzari L, Burgess AM, MacDougall HG, Curthoys IS. Superior canal dehiscence reveals concomitant unilateral utricular loss (UUL). Acta Otolaryngol. 2015;135(6):557-64.
5. Manzari L, MacDougall HG, Burgess AM, Curthoys IS. Selective otolith dysfunctions objectively verified. J Vestib Res. 2014;24(5-6):365-73.