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Vestibular Diagnostic Testing

One reason that vestibular problems are so challenging is that there is no definitive test for dizziness. There is no lab test, x-ray or other diagnostic tool that can confirm the presence of dizziness or measure its intensity. When investigating vestibular problems, one must look at the total body of evidence, including the patient's testimony, description of symptoms, history and response to specific exercises and movements performed in a laboratory setting.

Located at 243 Charles Street in Boston, the Jenks Vestibular Diagnostic Lab is one of the leading facilities in the world dedicated to measuring balance system function. Founded in 1986 through a gift from James L. Jenks, the laboratory is a center of diagnosis and research, where data are gathered to support both your doctor's investigation and where federally-funded balance research projects are conducted.

Investigators in the laboratory at Mass. Eye and Ear have created new tools, refined available tools and developed sophisticated computer models for better accuracy, consistency and success in the management of vestibular disorders.

Diagnostic Testing

Vestibular testing is a way of measuring the performance of certain parts of the balance system. It is not a measure of your symptoms and you do not need to feel dizzy on the day of testing. The test battery is comprised of four parts:

  • Rotary Chair Testing: Patient sits in a pivoting chair turning gently while eye movements are recorded (using video). This test is conducted to help evaluate sensitivity of the inner ears to turning motion.
  • Visual-vestibular interaction (VVI): Patients sits in the rotary chair turning gently while looking at moving targets. This test is given to see how well the central nervous system can combine multiple motion cues.
  • Videonystagmography (VNG): Video goggles will be placed over eyes to monitor and record voluntary and reflexive eye movements. The VNG helps measure how well the eyes, inner ears and brain help you keep your balance and position. This test can often indicate whether a balance problem is in the inner ear, brain or nerves connecting them.
  • Computerized Posture Platform (EquiTest): Patient stands on a platform that senses weight shifting to see how well they can control their posture under a variety of conditions. This test provides objective assessment of balance control and postural stability under conditions designed to reflect the challenges of daily life.

Formal vestibular testing in the Jenks Vestibular Diagnostic Laboratory is performed by experienced testing personnel. All of the vestibular function tests conform with ANS standards, and all of the results are interpreted by medical doctors. Make an appointment with a vestibular specialist today.