How is the Dix-Hallpike maneuver performed, and which findings indicate benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)?

Updated: Feb 15, 2018
  • Author: John C Li, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

The Dix-Hallpike maneuver is the standard clinical test for BPPV. The finding of classic rotatory nystagmus with latency and limited duration is considered pathognomonic. A negative test result is meaningless except to indicate that active canalithiasis is not present at that moment.

  • This test is performed by rapidly moving the patient from a sitting position to the supine position with the head turned 45° to the right. After waiting approximately 20-30 seconds, the patient is returned to the sitting position. If no nystagmus is observed, the procedure is then repeated on the left side.

  • Dix-Hallpike maneuver tips include the following:

    • Do not turn the head 90° since this can produce an illusion of bilateral involvement.

    • Tailor briskness of the Dix-Hallpike test to the individual patient.

    • Consider the Epley modification. From behind the patient, performing the maneuver is easier, since one can pull the outer canthus superolaterally to visualize the eyeball rotation.

    • In typical nystagmus, the axis is near the undermost canthus. Minimize suppression by directing the patient gaze to the anticipated axis of rotation.


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