Por: Viirre, Erik MD, PhD; Purcell, Ian MD, PhD; Baloh, Robert W. MD, Laryngoscope. 115(1):184-187, January 2005.
The Dix-Hallpike test and the canalith repositioning maneuver (CRM) are used to diagnose and treat benign positional vertigo (BPV). Dix-Hallpike is the standard procedure for diagnosis of BPV, but if the horizontal canal is not tested for BPV and the Dix-Hallpike is only carried out once, the condition may not be diagnosed and appropriately treated. We describe our method of testing for BPV and treating it with CRM. The Dix-Hallpike test involves rapidly moving the patient from a sitting position to "head hanging," where the patient's head is at least 10 degrees below horizontal. This is performed initially for the posterior semicircular canals. If these movements fail to elicit vertigo and nystagmus, tests of the horizontal semicircular canals are performed by laying the patient on each side. Importantly, if there is no vertigo or nystagmus elicited by testing the horizontal semi-circular canals, the posterior semicircular canals are tested again. It appears that being held in the head hanging positions and then left and right lateral positions will often allow the canaliths to collect such that the Dix-Hallpike test will become positive. Failure to repeat the tests of the posterior semicircular canals may result in a falsely negative test. Testing the horizontal canals and repeating the Dix-Hallpike test will reduce the likelihood of patients undergoing extra testing or other consequences of misdiagnosis. If, during any of this testing, a movement elicits vertigo or nystagmus, the appropriate CRM is then carried out.