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J Walter Vestibular Glossary
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Vestibular Glossary                 

Compiled by Jeff Walter PT, DPT, NCS

Acephalgic:  Without head pain

Acrophobia: Fear of heights

Ageotropic: Movement tendency directed away from the earth

Agoraphobia: Fear of busy, open marketplaces

Alexander’s Law:  Peripheral vestibular-origin nystagmus is enhanced with gaze directed toward the fast phase

Aminoglycosides:  Group of antibiotics that can produce vestibular or cochlear toxicity

Ampulla: Dilated ending of the semicircular canal containing the cupula

Ampullofugal: Refers to displacement “away” from the ampulla

Ampullopetal: Refers to displacement “toward” the ampulla

Antihistamine:  Class of medications utilized to address chronic vertigo or motion sickness

Antivert (Meclizine):  Antihistamine used to promote vestibular sedation with chronic vertigo or motion sickness

Ataxia:  incoordination

Ativan (Lorazepam):  Benzodiazepine used to promote vestibular sedation with acute vertigo

Audiometry:  Test of hearing

Autophony: Hearing of a person's own voice, breathing or other self-generated sounds

Barany Maneuver (aka Dix-Hallpike, Hallpike):  Testing procedure intended to identify anterior or posterior canal BPPV

Benzodiazapines:  Class of medications utilized to promote vestibular sedation with acute vertigo

Caloric Testing:  Component of ENG/VNG testing, intended to assess for asymmetric horizontal canal / superior vestibular nerve function, that involves irrigation of warm and cold water or air into the external auditory canal

Canalithiasis: Variant of BPPV where otoconia are free floating within the semicircular canal

Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers:  Treatments intended to move displaced otoconia from the affected semicircular canal to the utricle

Cephalgia:  Head pain

Cerebellum:  Portion of the hindbrain that modulates balance, limb and eye movements

Cholesteatoma:  Mass growing within a confined space, often the middle ear

Cisplatnin:  Chemotherapy agent with vestibular-toxic properties

Cochlea: Pertaining to the auditory portion of the labyrinthine organ

Collic:  Referring to the neck

Cupulolithiasis: Variant of BPPV where otoconia are adherent to the cupula

Dehiscence:  Refers to a split or opening in a structure

Diazepam (Valium):  Benzodiazepine used to promote vestibular sedation

Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine):  Antihistamine used to promote vestibular sedation with chronic vertigo or motion sickness

Diplopia:  Double vision

Dix-Hallpike Maneuver (aka Barany, Hallpike):  Testing procedure intended to identify anterior or posterior canal BPPV

Dizziness:  Non-specific term encompassing feelings of imbalance, spinning and lightheadedness

Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate):  Antihistamine used to promote vestibular sedation with chronic vertigo or motion sickness

Dysarthria:  Difficulty articulating words

Dysequilibrium: Subjective sense of unsteadiness

Electronystagmography:  Measurement of eye movements with electrodes surrounding the orbit

Emesis:  vomit

Epley Maneuver:  Treatment designed to address posterior canal BPPV

Ewald’s Laws

1st::  The axis of nystagmus parallels the anatomic axis of the semicircular canal that generated it.

2nd:  Ampullopetal endolymphatic flow produces a stronger response than ampullofugal flow in the horizontal canal

Fistula (Perilymph):  Abnormal opening between the fluid-filled inner ear and the air-filled middle ear

Fixation:  Maintenance of gaze on a single location

Fovea: Center portion of the retina, the region of highest visual acuity

Frenzel googles:  Utilized to block gaze fixation with the use of magnified lenses and illumination

Fukuda Step Test:  Postural control test utilized to uncompensated unilateral vestibular loss

Fullness:  Perception of pressure

Gentamycin:  Antibiotic with vestibular-toxic properties

Geotropic: Movement tendency directed toward the earth

Habituation:  An acquired tolerance gained by repeated exposure to a particular stimulus

Hallpike Maneuver (Barany, Dix-Hallpike):  Testing procedure intended to identify anterior or posterior canal BPPV

Hydrops:  Distention of the labyrinth with fluid, a likely component of Meniere’s Disease

Hyperacusis:  Abnormally acute hearing

Imbalance: Observable unsteadiness

Labyrinth: Refers to the inner ear which includes the cochlea and vestibular organs

Latency:  The time between the initiation of a stimulus and the clinical manifestation of the disease

Lateropulsion:  Tendency to fall to the side

Lightheadedness: Feeling of faintness

Lorazepam (Ativan):  Benzodiazepine used to promote vestibular sedation with acute vertigo

Otolithic Crisis of Tumarkin: A sudden unexplained fall without loss of consciousness or vertigo, attributed to an abrupt change in otolithic input

Maculae:  Sensory epithelium contains hair cells that are stimulated by linear acceleration and deceleration within the otolithic organs

Mastoid:  Bony prominence at the base of the skull behind the ear, containing air spaces that connect with the middle ear cavity

Meclizine (Antivert):  Antihistamine used to promote vestibular sedation

Nystagmus: resets the eyes during prolonged rotation and directs gaze towards the oncoming visual scene

Ocular flutter: Bursts of saccadic activity that involve rapid, involuntary, uni-planar, conjugate eye movements around the point of fixation without an inter-saccadic interval

Ophthalmoplegia:  Weakness of one or more of the eye muscles that control eye movment

Optikinetic: generates eye movements in response to sustained rotations of objects that encompass a large portion of the visual field

Opsoclonus: Bursts of saccadic activity that involves rapid, involuntary, non-rhythmic, multidirectional, conjugate eye movements without significant inter-saccadic interval.

Orthogonal:  Intersecting at 90 degree angles

Ortostatic Tremor:  Rhythmical muscle contractions present with standing

Oscillopsia:  Gaze instability

Ossicles:   Middle ear bones (malleus, incus and stapes) that transmit sound from the tympanic membrane to the oval window of the inner ears.

Otalgia:  Pain in the ear

Otoconia: Calcium carbonate crystals embedded within the maculae within the otolith organs.

Otolithic Crisis of Tumarkin:  Sudden, conscious falls that occur without warning likely due to inappropriate otolith activity

Otolith Organs:  Refers to the utricle and saccule

Otoliths:  Otoconia

Ototoxic:  Having a harmful affect on labyrinthine structures

Paraneoplastic:  Caused by the presence of cancer in the body but not the physical presence of cancerous tissue in the part or organ affected

Paroxysmal:  Recurrent and sudden intensification of symptoms

Perilymph:  Fluid situated between the bony and membranous labyrinth

Phenergan (Promethazine):  Antihistamine utilized to address chronic vertigo and motion sickness

Phonophobia:  Fear/sensitivity to sound

Photophobia:  Fear/sensitivity to light

Pitch:  To turn about a medial-lateral (y) axis

Promethazine (Phenergan):  Antihistamine utilized to address chronic vertigo and motion sickness

Pulsion: The feeling of being pulled in a certain direction

Roll:  To turn about an anterior-posterior (x) axis

Roll Test:  Maneuver intended to identify horizontal canal BPPV

Saccades:  Abrupt, rapid movement of both eyes utilized to change the point of fixation

Saccule:  Otolithic organ that primarily detects vertical linear accelerations

Schwannoma:  Solid, usually benign tumor derived from Schwann cells

Semicircular canal:  Circular, fluid-filled, ducts within the vestibular organ responsible; structure promotes the detection of angular accelerations

Semont Maneuver:  Treatment designed to address posterior canal BPPV, canalithiasis or cupulolithiasis

Smooth pursuit: Maintains image of a small moving target on the fovea

Stapedectomy:  Surgical removal of the stapes followed by prosthetic replacement

Syncope:  Loss of consciousness

Temporal Bone:  Portion of the skull containing the labyrinth

Tinnitus:  Ringing in the ears

Torsion:  Rotation of the eye around a roll (anterior-posterior) axis

Tropia:  Deviation in ocular alignment

Tulio’s Phenomena:  Vestibular symptoms elicited by sound

Utricle:  Otolithic organ that primarily detects horizontal linear accelerations

Utriculofugal:  Refers to displacement away from the utricle

Utriculopetal:  Refers to displacement toward the utricle

Valium (Diazepam):  Benzodiazepine used to promote vestibular sedation

Valsalva Maneuver:  Attempt to forcibly exhale with the glottis, nose and mouth closed

Vestibular-Evoked Myogenic Potential:  Laboratory test of saccular / inferior vestibular nerve function

Vergence:  Movement of the eyes in opposite directions used in adjusting to near or far vision

Vertigo:  Dizziness characterized by a sense of spinning

Vestibular:  Refers to the vestibular (balance) portion of the labyrinthine organ

Vestibulopathy:  Disease to the vestibular organ

Visual fixation:  Holds the image of a stationary object on the fovea by minimizing ocular drifts

Videonystagmography:  Measurement of eye movements with the use of video

Yaw:  To turn about a vertical (z) axis



ABC:  Activities specific Balance Confidence

BOS:  Base Of Support

BPPV:  Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

BVL:  Bilateral Vestibular Loss

CD:  Cerebellar Degeneration

CDP:  Computerized Dynamic Posturography

COG:  Center of Gravity

COR:  Cervical-Ocular Reflex

CRT:  Canaltih Repositioning Treatment

CRM:  Canaltih Repositioning Maneuvers

CTSIB:  Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction for Balance

DBN:  DownBeat Nystagmus 

DGI:  Dynamic Gait Index

DHI:  Dizziness Handicap Inventory

DVA:  Dynamic Gait Index

ENG:  ElectroNystagmoGraphy

GEN:  Gaze-evoked nystagmus

HSN:  Head-Shaking induced Nystagmus

IHS:  International Headache Society

INO:  InterNuclear Ophthalmaplegia

LVN:  Lateral Vestibular Nucleus

MDD:  Mal De Debarquement

MLF:  Medial Longitudinal Fasiculus

MRD:  Migraine Related Dizziness

MS:  Multiple Sclerosis

MSQ:  Motion Sensitivity Quotient

MVN:  Medial Vestibular Nucleus

OKN:  OptiKinetic Nystagmus

PAN:  Periodic Alternating Nystagmus

PICA:  Posterior Insferior Cerebellar Artery

POT:  Primary Orthostatic Tremor

PPRF:  ParaPontine Reticular Formation

SCC:  SemiCircular Canal

SCD:  Superior Canal Dehiscence

SNHL:  Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss

SLS:  Single Limb Stance

SOT:  Sensory Organization Test

SVA:  Static Visual Acuity

 SWJ:  Square Wave Jerks

TUG:  Timed Up and Go

UVL:  Unilateral Vestibular Loss

VBI:  Vertebral-Basilar Insufficiency

VCR:  Vestibulo-Collic Reflex

VEMPs:  Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials

VNG:  VideoNystagmoGraphy

VOR:  Vestibular-Ocular Reflex

VRT:  Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

VSR:  Vestibulo-Spinal Reflex