What is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

Updated: Mar 13, 2020
  • Author: John C Li, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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BPPV is a complex disorder to define; because an evolution has occurred in the understanding of its pathophysiology, an evolution has also occurred in its definition. As more interest is focused on BPPV, new variations of positional vertigo have been discovered. What was previously grouped as BPPV is now subclassified by the offending semicircular canal (SCC; ie, posterior superior SCC vs lateral SCC) and, although controversial, further divided into canalithiasis and cupulolithiasis (depending on its pathophysiology). (A literature review by Anagnostou et al indicated that approximately 3% of all BPPV cases consist of the anterior canal variant of the condition. [2] )

BPPV is defined as an abnormal sensation of motion that is elicited by certain critical provocative positions. The provocative positions usually trigger specific eye movements (ie, nystagmus). The character and direction of the nystagmus are specific to the part of the inner ear affected and the pathophysiology.

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