What Tests Will My Doctor Use to Diagnose Vertigo?

Vertigo is a condition characterized by a false sensation of spinning or movement. It can result from various underlying issues affecting the inner ear, brain, or nervous system. Diagnosing vertigo accurately is crucial to provide appropriate treatment and management strategies.

Understanding Vertigo

Vertigo can be caused by multiple factors, such as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis, labyrinthitis, and more. Identifying the specific cause is essential for effective treatment.

Medical History and Physical Examination

Your doctor will begin by taking a detailed medical history, asking about your symptoms, their duration, and any triggering factors. A physical examination, including a neurological assessment, will help rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

Dix-Hallpike Maneuver

This simple test helps diagnose BPPV. Your doctor will guide you through specific head and body movements while observing your eye movements for signs of vertigo.

Head Impulse Test (HIT)

The HIT evaluates the function of your vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), which helps maintain stable vision during head movements. Abnormalities can indicate inner ear issues.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP)

VEMP assesses the health of the saccule and inferior vestibular nerve. Electrodes are placed on the neck and forehead to measure muscle responses to auditory stimuli.

Caloric Testing

By irrigating the ear canal with warm and cold water, this test measures the response of the inner ear to temperature changes. Abnormal responses can indicate vestibular dysfunction.

Videonystagmography (VNG)

VNG records your eye movements while you track visual targets. It helps assess the integrity of the vestibular system and identify abnormal eye movements.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

An MRI can provide detailed images of the brain and inner ear structures, helping identify tumors, inflammation, or other structural issues that might cause vertigo.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan offers cross-sectional images of the head and can help rule out issues like fractures, tumors, or bleeding in the brain.

Electrocochleography (ECoG)

ECoG measures electrical activity in the inner ear in response to sounds. It can assist in diagnosing Meniere’s disease and other inner ear disorders.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can help rule out underlying conditions such as thyroid disorders or infections that might contribute to vertigo.


Posturography assesses your balance and stability by having you stand on a specialized platform. It helps identify any balance-related issues.

Rotary Chair Test

This test involves sitting in a rotating chair while wearing special goggles. It helps measure eye movements in response to head movements, aiding in diagnosing inner ear problems.


Diagnosing vertigo requires a thorough assessment of your symptoms, medical history, and various tests to pinpoint the exact cause. The results of these tests guide healthcare professionals in developing an appropriate treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.



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