Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials: Preliminary Report

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Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) are short-latency electromyograms evoked by high-level acoustic stimuli recorded from surface electrodes over the tonically contracted sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle. These responses are presumed to originate in the saccule. The purpose of this preliminary report is to provide an overview of our initial experience with the VEMP by describing the responses obtained in five subjects. Click-evoked VEMPs were present at short latencies in two normal-hearing subjects, one patient with profound congenital sensorineural hearing loss, and one patient with a severe sensorineural hearing loss due to Meniere's disease. Additionally, VEMPs were absent in a patient with profound sensorineural hearing loss following removal of a cerebellopontine angle tumor. The amplitude of the VEMP was influenced by the amount of background activity of the SCM muscle, stimulus level, and stimulus frequency. Tone-burst evoked responses showed an inverse relationship between stimulus frequency and response latency. VEMPs may prove to be a reliable technique in the clinical assessment of vestibular function.