Utility of quick oculomotor tests for screening the vestibular system in the subacute and chronic populations

Helen S. Cohen, Jasmine Stitz, Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar, Susan P. Williams, Ajitkumar P. Mulavara, Brian T. Peters, Jacob J. Bloomberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The goal of this study was to determine the sensitivity and specificity of some widely used, easily administered clinical tests. Background: Simple tests of oculomotor function have become widely used for clinical screening of patients suspected of having vestibular disorders despite a paucity of evidence showing good statistical support for their use in this highly variable population. Methods: Healthy controls with no history of otologic or neurologic disorders (n = 291) were compared to patients with known vestibular disorders (n = 62). All subjects performed passive and active head shaking, un-instrumented head impulse tests (HT), and video head impulse tests (vHIT) recorded with infrared video-oculography. Results: For both passive and active head shaking, using presence/absence of vertigo and of nystagmus, sensitivity was low (<0.40). Sensitivity of presence/absence of saccades on HT was even lower (<0.15). On vHIT, gains were all approximately = 1.0, so sensitivity was very low (approximately 0.15–0.35). Sensitivity and specificity for presence/absence of saccades were moderately poor (less than 0.70). Conclusion: None of these tests are adequate for screening patients in the out-patient clinic for vestibular disorders or for screening people in epidemiologic studies to determine the prevalence of vestibular disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-386
Number of pages5
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • head impulse test
  • head shaking
  • infra-red video-oculography
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • video head impulse test
  • Head Impulse Test
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Young Adult
  • Mass Screening
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Vestibular Function Tests
  • Vestibular Diseases/diagnosis


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