J Audiol Otol.  2021 Jan;25(1):43-48. 10.7874/jao.2020.00332.

Spontaneous Direction-Changing or Reversing Positional Nystagmus without Changing Head Position during Head-Roll/Head-Hanging Maneuvers: Biphasic Positional Nystagmus

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Anadolu Medical Center, Kocaeli, Turkey


Background and Objectives
Conflicting mechanisms have been reported about spontaneous reversal of positional nystagmus during head-roll maneuver in patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). The objective of this study is to review the reports about the characteristics and possible mechanisms of reversing positional nystagmus and to present seven new cases.
Subjects and Methods
Seven cases (5 males, 2 females; 4 left-sided, 3 right-sided) were recruited among 732 patients with BPPV seen outpatient clinic between 2009 and 2019. Diagnosis of lateral canal canalolithiasis was confirmed when transient geotropic nystagmus was documented during head-roll test. Reversing positional nystagmus was analyzed in each case and clinical characteristics of the patients were documented.
The age of patients was ranging between 30 to 64 years (46.44±10.91). Duration of symptoms was short (21.34±19.74). Six of them had a story of head trauma. Initial latency was short. First, intense geotropic nystagmus was observed following provocative head-roll position on the affected side. There was short “silent phase”. Then, a longer second-phase of reversed nystagmus was noted. Total duration of nystagmus was 78.40±6.82 seconds. Maximal slow phase velocity was 24.05±6.34 deg/sec. All patients were cured with barbeque maneuver.
Ipsilateral reversing positional nystagmus during head-roll maneuver is due to lateral canal canalolithiasis. Mechanism is likely to be due to endolymphatic double flow. Bilateral cases may be due to simultaneous co-existence of canalolithiasis and cupulolithiasis. Longer recording of nystagmus is recommended not to miss the cases with spontaneous direction-changing positional nystagmus.


Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo; Positional nystagmus; Head-roll
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