Vestibular Assessment

Written by Travis M. Moore
Last edited 04-Oct-2019

Testing Vestibular Function

How do we access the peripheral vestibular system for assessment? The answer is we can't. At least not directly (that would be messy to say the least). Instead, we must use indirect tests. Believe it or not, the vestibular system plays a large role in how/when we move our eyes, and the eyes are easy to access non-invasively. Accordingly, eye movements are our structures of choice in the indirect assessment of the vestibular system in humans.

Using eye movements as a window into the vestibular system requires a detailed understanding of eye muscles and ocular motor nuclei, as well as the connections and type of information sent to those nuclei from the central vestibular system. Furthermore, there are other systems involved in eye movements (e.g., the frontal eye fields) and regulation (e.g., the cerebellum). If you are unfamiliar with this information, you can learn about it on this site in the Vestibular System Anatomy module (not yet available).