Patients with chronic balance problems and dizziness can experience a tremendous handicap in their everyday lives. Normal daily activities are often avoided for fear of bringing on an attack of their symptoms, which can include disorientation, lack of balance, light-headedness, swaying, or, in the case of vertigo, a spinning sensation that can be accompanied by nausea. While dizziness and balance disorders can afflict anyone, they are common in older patients.
The Human Vestibular (Balance) System
The human balance system is the coordinated effort of several systems: The vestibular system is the balance portion of the inner ear. This system tells the brain where the head is in space. The visual (the eyes) and the somatosensory systems (the body and sense of touch) give the brain information about the movement and stability of the world around us. Our central nervous system (the brain) then processes the information. It is conflicting information provided by these systems that results in dizziness or balance problems. The appropriate coordination of all these systems provides us with normal equilibrium.
Videonystagmography (VNG Test)
The balance system is a complex one involving coordination of the vestibular (inner ear), visual (eyes), and sensory nerves throughout the body. The videonystagmography (VNG) test is a balance test used to evaluate problems with balance and equilibrium.
Considered the gold standard for balance testing, during a VNG test goggles are placed on the patient with cameras above each eye. These cameras record all eye movements throughout testing. In the first VNG test the camera tracks and measures the eye reflexes in both active and resting states. In the second test you will be moved into different positions to test for dizziness caused by movement or motion. In the third test a caloric evaluation will be completed in both the right and left ears. In this test, warm and cool water will be put into the ear canal to stimulate responses of the inner ear system. The resulting eye movements are then measured. Each ear is evaluated separately.
Test Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours