Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: Diagnostic Pitfalls
C.R. Gordon, O. Zur, R. Furas, E. Kott, N. Gadoth
Depts. of Neurology and of Physical Therapy, Meir General Hospital, Kfar Saba, and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a common but often unrecognized cause of treatable vertigo. Possible causes of misdiagnosis of BPPV were studied by review of the records of 191 patients referred to our neurology clinic; 36 were identified as having BPPV not previously diagnosed. On referral the patients carried the following diagnoses: unspecified dizziness/vertigo (33%), transient ischemic attacks (28%), cervicogenic vertigo (19%), psychogenic dizziness/vertigo (11%), and others (8%).
The paroxysmal nature of the vertigo and position-precipitating factors were not spontaneously reported by 31%. Atypical, even bizarre, symptoms including dizzy sensations were reported by 19%, and neck pain and headache were cardinal symptoms that accompanied vertigo.
The Dix-Hallpike maneuver, which is essential for the diagnosis of BPPV, was not performed in any of the patients prior to referral. 30 (83%) experienced complete resolution of signs and symptoms after the first physical treatment session.
We conclude that non-paroxysmal, non-positional vertigo does not rule out BPPV. Atypical and even bizarre complaints of dizziness, as well as neck pain and headache could be cardinal symptoms of BPPV. The Dix-Hallpike maneuver is mandatory in those complaining of dizziness and vertigo.