Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your doctor may do a series of tests to determine the cause of your dizziness. During a physical examination, your doctor will likely look for:

  • Signs and symptoms of dizziness that are prompted by eye or head movements and then decrease in less than one minute
  • Dizziness with specific eye movements that occur when you lie on your back with your head turned to one side and tipped slightly over the edge of the examination bed
  • Involuntary movements of your eyes from side to side (nystagmus)
  • Inability to control your eye movements

If the cause of your signs and symptoms is difficult to determine, your doctor may order additional testing, such as:

  • Electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG). The purpose of this test is to detect abnormal eye movement. ENG (which uses electrodes) or VNG (which uses small cameras) can help determine if dizziness is due to inner ear disease by measuring involuntary eye movements while your head is placed in different positions or your balance organs are stimulated with water or air. Other tests can assess your ability to maintain an upright position under easy and difficult conditions.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This technique uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your head and body. Your doctor can use these images to identify and diagnose a range of conditions. MRI may be performed to rule out an acoustic neuroma — a noncancerous brain tumor of the nerve that carries sound and balance information from the inner ear to the brain — or other lesions that may be the cause of vertigo.
Jul. 10, 2012