St. Elizabeth's Medical Center

736 Cambridge Street, Brighton, MA 02135    617-789-3000

St. Elizabeth'sServices and Clinical CentersOtolaryngology

Vestibular Testing - What to Expect

What to Expect During Vestibular Testing

You are scheduled to have a test of your vestibular (balance) system. These tests provide information on how your inner ears and brain are processing information. You may be scheduled for all or only some of the tests described below.

Videonystagmography (VNG)

This test records an eye reflex (nystagmus) that naturally occurs when your vestibular system is stimulated. The nystagmus is recorded by a pair of infra-red goggles worn throughout the test. During the first part of the test you will be asked to follow moving dots on the wall with your eyes. This test can also be completed in the rotary chair. The second part of the test involves lying in different positions and sitting up and lying down. The final part of the test requires putting cool and warm air in the air canal for one minute to stimulate the inner air and measure the response. Some people feel dizzy for 2-3 minutes other people do not feel dizzy at all.  This test takes approximately 45 minutes.

Rotary Chair

This test involves sitting in a comfortable chair in a light tight room. Infra-red goggles are placed over your eyes to record nystagmus.  A pair of headphones with a microphone is worn for the entire test to allow constant communication between you and the audiologist.

During the first part of the test you will be asked to follow moving dots on the wall with your eyes. During the second part of the test the chair will turn in a circle at a very slow speed and turn side to side at a slightly faster speed. Each speed lasts around 30seconds. Most people do not feel dizzy during this part of the test. It is important to remember to keep your eyes open while the chair is turning. This test takes approximately 45 minutes.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)

Unlike the VNG and rotary chair testing, VEMP testing does not measure nystagmus.  Small surface electrodes are placed on a muscle on your neck, your sternum (breastbone) and your forehead. Headphones, similar to those worn for a hearing test are worn. A loud clicking noise is play in one ear while you look over your shoulder. This done for both the left and the right ear. This test takes approximately 45 minutes.

Vestibular Testing Pre-Test Instructions

You have been scheduled for vestibular testing by your physician. The purpose of this testing is to evaluate your vestibular (balance) system. Some of the testing may give you a sensation of motion. It is not uncommon for you to feel fatigued for the remainder of the day. It is recommended that someone accompany you to and from the appointment.

The testing takes approximately 2 ½ hours. Please dress in comfortable clothing.

**Always consult your physician before discontinuing any prescribed medication.**

Certain medications or substances may alter the vestibular test results.  To prevent this from happening, please DO NOT take any of the following 48 hours prior to your appointment:

  • Anti-dizziness or anti-nausea pills
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Sleeping pills or tranquilizers
  • Beverages that contain caffeine
  • Over the counter allergy or cold medications

DO NOT STOP any mediation for heart/blood pressure disorders, endocrine (thyroid, hormonal) disorders, blood/sugar disorders for diabetes, seizure disorders, anxiety medications, or medications for depression.  If you are in doubt, please contact your physician BEFORE YOU STOP taking the medication.

Eat a light meal 3-4 hours prior to the test.  If you are a diabetic or have low blood sugar, please follow your regular mealtime routine as well as your normal injections or pills.

For more information, or help finding a doctor, call us at 617-789-5004 or contact us.


St. Elizabeth's Department of Otolaryngology
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, St. Margaret's Center 8
617-789-5004
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