Journal of Neurology

, Volume 263, Issue 10, pp 2086–2096 | Cite as

Vertigo with sudden hearing loss: audio-vestibular characteristics

  • Jacob M. Pogson
  • Rachael L. Taylor
  • Allison S. Young
  • Leigh A. McGarvie
  • Sean Flanagan
  • G. Michael Halmagyi
  • Miriam S. Welgampola
Original Communication


Acute vertigo with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is a rare clinical emergency. Here, we report the audio-vestibular test profiles of 27 subjects who presented with these symptoms. The vestibular test battery consisted of a three-dimensional video head impulse test (vHIT) of semicircular canal function and recording ocular and cervical vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (oVEMP, cVEMP) to test otolith dysfunction. Unlike vestibular neuritis, where the horizontal and anterior canals with utricular function are more frequently impaired, 74 % of subjects with vertigo and SSNHL demonstrated impairment of the posterior canal gain (0.45 ± 0.20). Only 41 % showed impairment of the horizontal canal gains (0.78 ± 0.27) and 30 % of the anterior canal gains (0.79 ± 0.26), while 38 % of oVEMPs [asymmetry ratio (AR) = 41.0 ± 41.3 %] and 33 % of cVEMPs (AR = 47.3 ± 41.2 %) were significantly asymmetrical. Twenty-three subjects were diagnosed with labyrinthitis/labyrinthine infarction in the absence of evidence for an underlying pathology. Four subjects had a definitive diagnosis [Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, vestibular schwannoma, anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) infarction, and traction injury]. Ischemia involving the common-cochlear or vestibulo-cochlear branches of the labyrinthine artery could be the simplest explanation for vertigo with SSNHL. Audio-vestibular tests did not provide easy separation between ischaemic and non-ischaemic causes of vertigo with SSNHL.


Vertigo Sudden sensorineural hearing loss Vestibular neuritis Labyrinthitis Ischemia 



This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. We wish to thank the vestibular nurses for assistance operating the Omniax rotator, Ms. Druvinka Bandaranayake for nystagmus analysis, and Dr. Andrew Brandshaw for LabView programming and the labyrinth image.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

GMH and LAM are unpaid consultants to GN Otometrics. The other authors have nothing to declare.

Ethical approval

All subjects gave consent for the collection of results and participation. The study was approved by the Sydney Local Health District (RPAH Zone) ethics committee.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Clinical NeurosciencesRoyal Prince Alfred HospitalCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.Central Clinical SchoolUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  3. 3.Department of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck and Skull Base Surgery, St Vincent’s HospitalDarlinghurstAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of NSWKensingtonAustralia

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