Diagnoses of Dizziness- and Vertigo-related Disorders in ENT Practices in Germany

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Aim:The aim of this study was to analyze the prevalence of dizziness- and vertigo-related diagnoses in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) practices in Germany and the associated demographic characteristics based on data from a representative nationwide practice database.Method:The study sample included patients from 138 ENT practices in Germany who received dizziness- and vertigorelated diagnoses (ICD-10 code) between January 2012 and December 2015. Collected parameters included age, sex, insurance status, prescribed medication (anatomical therapeutic chemical [ATC] class), and referrals to other specialists and hospitals.Results:A total of 107,458 patients were available for analysis. Most common diagnoses were “dizziness and giddiness” (67.7%), “benign paroxysmal vertigo” (10.2%) and “disorder of vestibular function, unspecified” (7.2%). Referrals and admissions were made in 12.8%, mostly to radiologists (7.7%), followed by neurologists (3.7%), and hospitals (1.4%). Most referrals were made for unspecific diagnoses and for “vestibular neuronitis.” The rate of medical prescriptions was 37.3%, with the most common prescription being for antivertigo preparations.Conclusions:Dizziness- and vertigo-related disorders are frequently diagnosed in ENT practices in Germany. The majority of these diagnoses are unspecific and lead to an increased rate of referrals and hospital admissions. The medical prescription rate, especially of antivertigo preparations, was high, even among patients with benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo. This study reflects a mostly pragmatic approach to a complex diagnostic and therapeutic challenge in daily ENT practice as well as the limited ability of the ICD-10 system to classify the underlying etiology.

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