The Differential Diagnosis of Vertigo in Children: A Systematic Review of 2726 Cases

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Vertigo is a relatively common complaint in children with 5.3% of pediatric patients complaining of this symptom. Although the causes of vertigo have been well established in adults, the diagnoses in children have not been well described. The aims of this systematic review are to discover the current information regarding etiologies of vertigo in children and to determine the most common diagnoses that present with vertigo in pediatric patients.


PubMed, Scopus, and Embase were searched using the PRISMA guidelines. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were established a priori. All results were analyzed using a Bayesian methodology for point estimation and credible interval calculation.


From the database searches, 1419 titles were reviewed. Twenty-two studies met inclusion criteria. From these studies, a total of 2726 children aged 2 months to 19 years were reported. The top 4 diagnoses associated with childhood vertigo include vestibular migraine (23.8%; credible interval, 22.3%–25.5%), benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood (13.7%; credible interval, 12.4%–15%), idiopathic or no identified association (11.7%; credible interval, 10.5%–12.9%), and labyrinthitis/vestibular neuronitis (8.47%, credible interval, 7.46%–9.55%) accounting for approximately 57% of cases. Less common diagnoses included Meniere disease and central nervous system tumors.


Although the most common causes of pediatric vertigo include vestibular migraine and benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood, the etiologies are myriad. Rates and credible intervals are provided to permit a probabilistic diagnostic approach to these children.

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