Characteristics and Treatment Outcomes of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo in a Cohort of Veterans

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Background: The Mountain Home Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center has been diagnosing and treating veterans with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) for almost 2 decades. The clinic protocol includes a 2-week follow-up visit to determine the treatment outcome of the canalith repositioning treatment (CRT). To date, the characteristics of BPPV and treatment efficacy have not been reported in a cohort of veterans with BPPV.

Purpose: To determine the prevalence and characteristics of veterans diagnosed with BPPV in a Veterans Affairs Medical Center Audiology Clinic and to examine treatment outcomes.

Research Design: Retrospective chart review.

Study Sample: A total of 102 veterans who tested positive for BPPV in the Vestibular Clinic at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center from March 2010 to August 2011.

Results: In 102 veterans who were diagnosed with BPPV, the posterior semicircular canal was most often involved (75%), motion-provoked vertigo was the most common symptom (84%), and the majority (43%) were diagnosed with BPPV in their sixth decade. The prevalence of BPPV in the Audiology Vestibular Clinic was 15.6%. Forty-one percent of veterans reported a symptom onset within 12 months of treatment for BPPV; however, 36% reported their symptoms began > 36 months prior to treatment. CRT was effective (negative Dix–Hallpike/roll test) in most veterans (86%) following 1 treatment appointment (M = 1.6), but more than half reported incomplete symptom resolution (residual dizziness) at the follow-up appointment. Eighteen percent of veterans experienced a recurrence (M = 1.8 years; SD = 1.7 years).

Conclusions: The characteristics and treatment outcomes of BPPV in our veteran cohort was similar to what has been reported in the general population. Future work should focus on improving the timeliness of evaluation and treatment of BPPV and examining the time course and management of residual dizziness.