Journal of Neurology

, Volume 259, Issue 8, pp 1553–1560 | Cite as

Inferior vestibular neuritis

  • Ji-Soo KimEmail author
  • Hyo Jung Kim
Original Communication


Vestibular neuritis (VN) mostly involves the superior portion of the vestibular nerve and labyrinth. This study aimed to describe the clinical features of VN involving the inferior vestibular labyrinth and its afferents only. Of the 703 patients with a diagnosis of VN or labyrinthitis at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital from 2004 to 2010, we retrospectively recruited 9 patients (6 women, age range 15–75) with a diagnosis of isolated inferior VN. Diagnosis of isolated inferior VN was based on torsional downbeating spontaneous nystagmus, abnormal head-impulse test (HIT) for the posterior semicircular canal (PC), and abnormal cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP) in the presence of normally functioning horizontal and anterior semicircular canals, as determined by normal HIT and bithermal caloric tests. All patients presented with acute vertigo with nausea, vomiting, and imbalance. Three patients also had tinnitus and hearing loss in the involved side. The rotation axis of torsional downbeating spontaneous nystagmus was best aligned with that of the involved PC. HIT was also positive only for the involved PC. Cervical VEMP was abnormal in seven patients, and ocular VEMP was normal in all four patients tested. Ocular torsion and subjective visual vertical tests were mostly within the normal range. Since isolated inferior VN lacks the typical findings of much more prevalent superior VN, it may be mistaken for a central vestibular disorder. Recognition of this rare disorder may help avoid unnecessary workups in patients with acute vestibulopathy.


Vertigo Nystagmus Vestibular neuritis Posterior semicircular canal Saccule 



This study was supported by a grant from the Korea Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (A080750).

Conflicts of interest

J.-S. Kim serves as an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Neuro-otology and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Korean Society of Clinical Neurophysiology, Research in Vestibular Science, Journal of Clinical Neurology, Frontiers in Neuro-ophthalmology, Journal of Neuro-ophthalmology, and Case Reports in Ophthalmological Medicine; and has received research support from SK Chemicals Co., Ltd.

Supplementary material

Video 1. A patient (patient 1) with right inferior vestibular neuritis shows spontaneous nystagmus with counterclockwise torsional (from the patient’s perspective) and downbeat components. The downbeat component is more prominent in the contralesional left eye. The horizontal component was minimal. (MPG 5,864 kb)

Video 2. Head-impulse test is abnormal only for the left posterior semicircular canal in a patient (patient 2) with left inferior vestibular neuritis. (MPG 5,102 kb)

Video 3. Follow-up examination 2 days later shows normalized head-impulse test for left posterior semicircular canal after resolution of the symptoms and nystagmus in patient 2. (MPG 4,376 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologySeoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang HospitalSeongnam-siSouth Korea
  2. 2.Kangwon National University College of MedicineChuncheonKorea
  3. 3.Medical Research Institute, Seoul National University Bundang HospitalSeongnam-siKorea

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