Dix-Hallpike test (also called Nylen-Barany test)
vertigo is triggered by certain head movements. Your
doctor will carefully observe any involuntary eye movements
(nystagmus) that may occur during this test to
determine if the cause of your vertigo is central or peripheral. Central
vertigo is caused by a problem inside the brain, and peripheral vertigo is
caused by a problem with the inner ear or the nerve leaving the inner ear. The
Dix-Hallpike test also can help determine which ear is likely affected. During
You sit with your legs extended on the
examination table. Your doctor turns your head 30º to 45º toward one side and
helps you quickly lie back so your head hangs over the end of the
Your doctor watches your eyes for involuntary eye movements
nystagmus). The timing and appearance of the eye
movements will identify the cause of vertigo as either the inner ear or the
After you sit upright for a few minutes to recover from the
vertigo, the procedure is repeated with your head turned in the opposite
Why It Is Done
The Dix-Hallpike test locates the
cause of vertigo as either the inner ear or the brain. If the problem is in the
ear, this test can determine which ear is affected.
A normal test result means that you did not
have vertigo or nystagmus during the test.
An abnormal test
result means that you had vertigo or nystagmus during the test. It is likely
that the vertigo is caused by an inner ear or brain problem, depending on the
way you reacted to the test.
What To Think About
The test can be uncomfortable
because of the vertigo and nausea that may result.
The test is
inexpensive, easy to do, and is commonly done as part of the physical exam when
you visit your doctor with complaints of dizziness or vertigo.