Evaluating the dizzy patient: bedside examination and laboratory assessment of the vestibular system.
Dizziness and imbalance are common presenting complaints to the neurologist. The lack of a systematic approach to the examination and laboratory evaluation of the vestibular system often leads to incorrect diagnoses and suboptimal care. With a basic understanding of vestibular physiology and proper examination techniques, a correct diagnosis can generally be made at the bedside. We review the principles of the neuro-otological examination, including assessment for static vestibular imbalance, dynamic vestibular function, provocative maneuvers, ocular motor examination, and vestibulospinal testing. The use of additional vestibular laboratory testing and neuroimaging is then considered to further localize and quantify abnormalities.