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May 1989

Vestibular Testing in Comatose Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Neurologische Universitätsklinik, Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tübingen, West Germany (Dr Buettner) and the Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore (Dr Zee).

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(5):561-563. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520410095030

• The analysis of vestibular responses in a comatose patient often provides the critical information for making a correct preliminary diagnosis and directing the subsequent laboratory evaluation. Because of some uncertainties about what is being tested with the various bedside maneuvers that are used to elicit vestibular responses, we review the physiologic basis for the oculomotor responses that occur with head rotation or with caloric stimuli. We further urge precise and unambiguous terminology to describe both stimulus and response. We suggest using physiologically well-defined terms such as vestibulo-ocular reflex and cervico-ocular reflex and avoiding potentially misleading terms such as the doll's head and the oculocephalic maneuvers.

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