The vestibular system is a sensory system that contributes to a person’s sense of balance and spatial orientation. Vestibular evoked myogenic potential, referred to as a VEMP, is a noninvasive, thorough evaluation of the vestibular system. Information about important reflex pathways within the inner ear and nerve function are collected and can help in determining the cause of dizziness and imbalance.
During a VEMP the saccule, a bed of sensory cells in the inner ear, and vestibular nerve are stimulated by sound to check for proper functioning. Electromagnetic potentials generated from muscles across the neck in response to sound reaching the inner ear are also observed during the assessment. When functioning correctly, the saccule and inferior vestibular nerves work together to send signals to the muscles of the eyes in response to head movement.
To provide an in-depth visualization and study of the vestibular system, VEMPs are often conducted with a videonystagmography (VNG).
A VEMP is a 30-minute test administered by a technician while you are seated in a chair. Three electrodes are used to measure and record responses from your vestibular system are placed on your head and neck, 1 on the forehead and 2 on the neck. After placing the electrodes, the technician will provide you with headphones to place over both ears for the duration of the test.
Each ear is tested individually by a constant, high volume, clicking sound. The clicking heard is within safe clinical parameters and is often softer than the sirens of an ambulance. After several minutes of testing the ear’s response to sound, the opposite ear will begin to hear the same constant, high volume, clicking sound. Once the second ear has received the same amount of stimuli the technician will instruct you to remove the headphones indicating the completion of the test.
The electrodes will be removed at the conclusion of the test and the data recorded will be sent to a provider for interpretation. The results of a VEMP are typically available within one week of your test and reviewed with you at your next follow up visit. If there is an abnormality seen on your test, you will receive a call from our office.
Wear a loose-fitting top that will allow access to your neck.