New perspectives on vestibular evoked myogenic potentials

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Although the vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) measured from the cervical muscles (cVEMP, cervical VEMP) is well described and has documented clinical utility, its analogue recorded from the extraocular muscles (oVEMP, ocular VEMP) has been described only recently and is currently emerging as an additional test of otolith function. This review will, therefore, summarize recent developments in VEMP research with a focus on the oVEMP.

Recent findings

Recent studies suggest that the oVEMP is produced by otolith afferents in the superior vestibular nerve division, whereas the cVEMP evoked by sound is thought to be an inferior vestibular nerve reflex. Correspondingly, the oVEMP correlates better with caloric and subjective visual vertical tests than sound-cVEMPs. cVEMPs are more complicated than often thought, as shown by the presence of crossed responses and conflicting results of recent vibration studies. Altered inner ear mechanics produced by the vestibular diseases superior semicircular canal dehiscence and Ménière's disease lead to changes in the preferred frequency of the oVEMP and cVEMP.

Summary

The oVEMP provides complementary diagnostic information to the cVEMP and is likely to be a useful addition to the diagnostic test battery in neuro-otology.

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