Particle repositioning procedures such as the Epley manoeuvre have become popular in the management of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) at the expense of more traditional therapies such as vestibular habituation.
We prospectively analysed the response of consecutive patients presenting with BPPV to treatment with vestibular habituation exercises using a symptom score sheet before and after treatment. This same patient group was then followed up, on average three years, eight months after discharge, to determine their long-term response to treatment.
The results of the study demonstrated an excellent short-term response rate to treatment but a high level of recurrence after discharge. Most patients who experienced further symptoms following discharge were however self-reliant and were able to return to their habituation exercises without the need for further medical input.
The aim in the management of these patients must be to provide long-term self reliance as well as shortterm cure and it may be that this has not yet been well demonstrated with the Epley manoeuvre. It must also be remembered that particle repositioning manoeuvres cannot be used in all patients for example those who suffer with cervical or thoracic spine pathology and that some will fail to respond at all.
We believe that vestibular habituation retains a useful role in the treatment of BPPV.