Vestibular Testing

A vestibular test is done to evaluate your vestibular, or balance, system. Patients who experience dizziness, vertigo or other balance problems may have such a test.

Our doctors use vestibular function tests to determine if problems with the inner ear are the cause of dizziness, vertigo or imbalance. These tests often provide additional diagnostic information when the reason for dizziness is not made clear with a physical examination.

In some cases, you may also be scheduled for a hearing test before or after your vestibular testing.

Types of Vestibular Tests

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, we offer several kinds of vestibular tests.

Computerized Dynamic Posturography

This series of balance tests evaluates which of the 3 main systems involved in balance (your inner ears, your eyes or your body) you rely on the most. You will stand on a platform without your shoes on for approximately 20 minutes while your balance is challenged in various ways. You will wear a harness for safety.

Videonystagmography (VNG)

The VNG is comprised of a series of vestibular tests designed to examine whether there are any problems with your inner ear(s). The balance tests record how your eyes react to messages that your inner ears send to your brain. You will be asked to follow a light for some tests, and move into different positions, such as flat on your back or turned on your side. You will also have warm and cool water placed in your ear canals to evaluate the response from your inner ear. You will wear goggles that will record how your eyes are moving throughout these balance tests.

Vestibular Testing: What to Expect

Before Your Appointment

There are some medications that may interfere with the test results of your vestibular evaluation, so you will receive a letter in the mail listing those you should cease taking before the test. These are mostly medicines that are meant to help with dizziness or vertigo. If you have any questions about what medicine you can or cannot take ahead of time, please call our clinic at 336-716-3103, option 1. In addition,

  • Please wear comfortable clothing. Pants are preferable. It can be chilly in our testing lab, so layers are recommended.
  • Please do not wear eye makeup, as it can interfere with cameras that record your eye movements.
  • Please do not eat for a few hours before the vestibular test. If you need to take medicine with food, please eat something bland like plain toast.

During Your Appointment

  • You will be asked questions about your current symptoms. Please bring a list of all your medications.
  • You may have a hearing test before or after the balance testing.
  • You will stand on a platform that will move in different ways to see how well you can keep your balance in different situations.
  • You will watch lights move so that we can see how well you can visually track a moving object.
  • You will be asked to move into different positions (rolling onto your side, laying down quickly, etc.) so we can see how your system reacts to the movement.
  • You will have warm and cool water placed in your ear canals to evaluate the response from your inner ear.
  • Some people feel dizzy or nauseous from the tests, and some do not. We try to make you as comfortable as possible. It is recommended that you have someone available to drive you home if you are dizzy or queasy when vestibular testing is complete.

After Your Appointment

After vestibular testing, depending on your results, you may see one of our ENT/head and neck surgery physicians, or a report will be sent to your physician with the test results. Treatment and management will be determined based on the test results.

Patients with vestibular problems are often referred to physical therapy for rehabilitation.