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Dizziness in the ED: It ’ s Enough to Make Your Head Spin!. Saurin Bhatt, MD/MBA Associate Staff, Cleveland Clinic March 6, 2012. Dizziness. 2.3 - 2.6 million patients representing (about 1.5 % of ED visits) over $1.6 billion in health care expenditures per year

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dizziness in the ed it s enough to make your head spin
Dizziness in the ED: It’s Enough to Make Your Head Spin!

Saurin Bhatt, MD/MBA

Associate Staff, Cleveland Clinic

March 6, 2012

  • 2.3 - 2.6 million patients representing
    • (about 1.5% of ED visits)
  • over $1.6 billion in health care expenditures per year
  • high incidence, cost, and potentially serious underlying causes of dizziness (TIA, stroke, arrhythmia)
proper care of your dizzy patient
Proper Care of Your Dizzy Patient
  • What does the patient mean?
    • Vertigo, presyncope, syncope, weakness, anxiety, AMS
  • Women and geriatric populations - atypical or under recognized symptoms of MI or stroke presenting as dizziness
    • Elderly - several factors making them risky patients for cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease
    • Multiple causes of dizziness
  • Who needs to get involved?
    • Neurology/Neurosurgery, ENT, Cardiology, Toxicology, ICU, or Psychiatry
history is key
History is Key
  • Obtaining a description of symptoms without using the word dizziness may be challenging at times
  • Focus on:
    • Timing
    • Triggers
    • Progression of the symptoms
    • Associated symptoms
pe essentials
PE Essentials
  • Largely guided by history, but almost always entails a detailed neurologic examination.
  • Full Neurologic examination
    • Cranial Nerves, especially CN VII and VIII
    • Gait, truncal ataxia, strength, sensation, DTR
    • Pronator drift, FTN, Romberg tests
  • Ear Examination
  • Cardiovascular examination
    • Carotid bruits, irregular rhythm.
pe essentials1
PE Essentials
  • Eye examination
    • Nystagmus
    • Vestibular Ocular Reflex (Head Impulse Test)
    • Skew Testing
    • Conjugate gaze
vestibular ocular reflex
Vestibular Ocular Reflex
  • Head Thrust Maneuver
    • Patient moves the head back and forth 20 degrees in each direction while gazing on a fixed object (your nose)
    • Disruption during vertigo suggests peripheral cause
    • Normal response in the setting of dizziness is suggestive of cerebellar stroke
examination is better than mri
Examination is better Than MRI!
  • In an article published in Stroke September 2009, the HINTS examination (Head Impulse, Nystagmus testing, and Testing of Skew) was more sensitive than DWI MRI within the first 48 hours of symptoms.
  • These three tests together take at most 2 minutes to perform and should be included in the examination of anyone complaining of persistent or constant dizziness.
a word about imaging
A Word about Imaging
  • Sensitivity of CT for identifying any stroke in the acute setting in 2007 data is 26%.
  • MRI is more sensitive (83%), but not many of emergency physicians have this access acutely
  • Even then, sensitivity is lowest within 24 hours of onset and when the lesion is in the brainstem or cerebellum.
peripheral vs central
Peripheral vs. Central
  • Best way to rule out central disorder is to ruleina specific peripheral vestibular disorder
dix hallpike maneuver
Dix-Hallpike Maneuver
  • Dix-Hallpike test for BPPV
    • Person from sitting to supine position, head turned 45 oto one side and extended about 20 o backward
    • Once supine, eyes typically observed for about 30 seconds.
    • If no nystagmusensues, the person is brought back to sitting. Delay about 30 seconds again, and then the other side is tested
    • Positive Dix-Hallpike tests consists of a burst of nystagmus
epley maneuver

Have the patient sit upright

Turn the patient’s head to the symptomatic side at 45 o angle, lie on the back

Remain in this position until resolution of the nystagmus

Turn the patient’s head 90 o to the other side

Remain up to 1 minutes in this position

Roll their body further in the same direction, so that the patient has their head facing nose down

Remain up to 1 minute in this position.

Go back to the sitting position and remain up to 30 seconds in this position.

During every step of this procedure the patient may experience some dizziness


Decision Tree

For Dizziness

the ones to not send home
The ones to not send home…
  • Diagnoses to not miss!
    • Cerebellar stroke
    • Vertebrobasilar stroke
    • Space occupying Lesions
    • NPH
    • Hypoperfusionstates
    • MS (not emergent), but can be found on examination
cerebellar stroke
Cerebellar Stroke
  • 20,000 of total strokes
  • HINTS may be diagnostic
  • Caution with negative neuroimaging; maintain a high index of suspicion.

Often nonspecific findings (N,V, unsteady gait, or HA) and subtle neurologic findings (ataxia, dysarthria, and nystagmus)

vertebrobasilar stroke
  • more neurologic abnormalities than cerebellar strokes due to involvement of the posterior circulation
  • HA, dizziness, vertigo, or confusion may be complaints
  • PE findings include pupillary abnormalities, abnormal ocular movements, facial palsy, hemi/quadriplegia
space occupying lesion
Space Occupying Lesion
  • Cerebellopontine angle tumors -slow progress (weeks or months)
  • Symptoms = vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, or facial weakness/ numbness (CN 7 and 8 involvement)
  • Occipital HA can also be present
  • With progression, look for signs of increased ICP: papilledema or mental status changes
  • Usually in 60’s or 70’s - classic triad of
    • unsteady gait, dementia, urinary incontinence
      • Gait is wide based, reduced step height and length, and decreased speed
      • Urinary frequency and urgency are earliest manifestations
      • Dementia - memory impairment with decreased attention, alertness, or speed of mental processing
  • Ventriculomegaly can be discovered on CT or MRI
hypoperfusion states
Hypoperfusion States
  • Decreased cerebral perfusion can lead to AMS or sensation of dizziness
  • Shock may be apparent with vital signs changes, normally hypertensive patients with normal blood pressure or having certain beta blocker/calcium channel blockers may not have the traditional changes in vital signs
  • Decreased cardiac output from ACS may present as hypotension, cooler skin, dyspnea, rales, confusion, AMS, or dizziness
multiple sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis
  • Typically young adults (25-45).
    • Vertigo is the presenting symptom for 5% of patients
    • 50% of MS patients have vertigo
  • INO found during nystagmus testing indicates MLF involvement and due to heavy myelination of the MLF places MS high on the differential
  • Prominent symptoms may include numbness or paresthesias
  • As Emergency physicians we should evaluate for other disease processes and refer to neurology for workup
medical treatment options
Medical Treatment Options
  • Goal - stabilize symptoms and identify treatable disorders
  • BPPV can be treated with head repositioning maneuvers
  • Symptomatic Medication options
    • DimenhydrinateIV (Dramamine)
    • Meclizine PO (Antivert)
    • Scopolamine transdermal patch
    • Benzodiazepines
  • Antinausea medication if prominent feature
  • Corticosteriods and valacyclovirhave been used for vestibular neuritis, but viral eitiology is rarely identified.
key lecture points
Key Lecture points
  • HINTS examination has a great sensitivity for finding central lesions.
  • The Dix-Hallpike Maneuver and Epley Maneuver not only diagnose BPPV, but also treat BPPV.
  • Rule out a central lesion by ruling in a peripheral lesion.
  • Always maintain a high degree of suspicion. A negative CT or MRI especially in the acute setting does not mean that there is no stroke!
  • Seminars in neurology: Vertigo presentations in the emergency department
  • Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine: Nystagmus assessments documented by emergency physicians in acute dizziness presentations: a target for decision support?
  • Annals of Emergency Medicine: Risk of vascular events in emergency department patients discharged home with diagnosis of dizziness or vertigo.
  • Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America: Dizzy and confused: a step-by-step evaluation of the clinician's favorite chief complaint
  • American family physician: Dizziness: a diagnostic approach
  • Neurology: Approach to the Dizzy patient in Practical Neurology