BPPV, also known as Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, is a life altering condition that can significantly reduce the quality of life for the person who lives with the condition. As a type of vertigo that is most often of unknown cause and origin, BPPV, can dissipate with time but, in some cases, may require surgical intervention for correction. If you have been diagnosed with BPPV, it is important to understand what BPPV treatments are available to you and to become prepared with those that are related to the surgical aspect of treating vertigo.
Typically, BPPV is diagnosed when a patient presents to the office with complaints of vertigo upon movement of the head. Sometimes referred to as positional vertigo, BPPV, can result in vertigo in any change in position but is most often severe in those patients who move from lying down to sitting up, and vice versa. When symptoms persist beyond a couple of months, an ENT specialist will most likely need to be consulted and surgical intervention may be considered.
Nerve neurectomy is the surgical procedure most often recommended for patients with BPPV. Using general or local anesthesia, your ENT surgeon will perform the surgery by accessing the nerves through the area around the ear. While the surgery may result in some additional complications of vertigo, dizziness and nausea, most patients report spontaneous recovery from BPPV within a few days after vertigo surgery.
During follow-up, the ENT will determine the success of the BPPV surgical procedure by testing the presence of your dizziness through examination of your pupils when your head is moved. This procedure is known as observing the presence of nystagmus using a Hallpike’s maneuver. When your doctor can detect no sign of nystagmus, when using the Hallpike’s maneuver, the condition generally is considered resolved and there are few opportunities for complications in the future.
Vertigo of any type can lead to a decrease in quality of life for the person who suffers from the condition for which there are prolonged periods of treatment. If you are suffering from positional dizziness, consult an ENT as the condition may be related to BPPV and may require surgical intervention to correct the complication of the nerves that control balance and equilibrium. While many cases of BPPV recover within a few months following onset, surgery is an option that should be discussed with your ENT specialist as, ultimately, this may improve your overall quality of life much sooner.
Sources: Laryngoscope 1990; 100: 702-705.