How is the head-shake test performed in a dizziness evaluation?

Updated: Jun 26, 2018
  • Author: Wayne T Shaia, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Head-shake test

  • The examiner vigorously shakes (approximately 1 Hz) the patient's head in the horizontal plane from side to side for 10-15 seconds. The patient is wearing +20 lenses to inhibit visual fixation. After the shaking is stopped, the eyes are observed for nystagmus.

  • This test can reveal latent nystagmus and indicate which labyrinth is malfunctioning. By convention, the fast phase of nystagmus is the terminology used to describe nystagmus. In this test, the fast phase of nystagmus is directed toward the normal (or better-performing) labyrinth.

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