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Information on Caloric Testing Information on Caloric Testing

Dizziness and/or imbalance may indicate a problem in the inner ear. Caloric testing assesses inner ear function and provides an objective measure of balance. The test involves irrigation of cool and warm water to the external ear canal with the patient’s head inclined at 30 degrees. Water irrigation to the ear is slightly noisy and akin to water running into the ear in the shower. Altering inner ear activity by a temperature change causes brief dizziness, peaking at approximately a minute and resolving slowly over two minutes. Dizziness is deliberately generated to induce eye movements, which are measured with video recording goggles.

To explain in greater detail, cool water decreases the normal inner ear nerve activity and warm water increases it. The temporary asymmetry induced in the balance system by altering the temperature of the inner ear causes the eyes to move. The speed of eye movement is recorded by a small video camera within the goggles worn during the test (see camera over left eye). Thus the responsiveness of the right and left inner ear can be compared.

One in twenty patients can feel nauseated. Vomiting is rare (1:100). We would wait until any nausea had settled before performing sequential irrigations. The test is not painful but the sense of dizziness may be mildly unpleasant for some patients. There are no permanent side effects. After lying on the bed for 2 minutes after the procedure patients can mobilise normally.

Preparation: it is important to ensure your ear canals are free of wax before the test. Please see your GP one week prior to check on this. You may need some wax dissolving ear drops or your external ear canals irrigated by your GP to remove any wax.

Results of the test will be explained at the end of the procedure and Dr Mossman will also write to your general practitioner and/or specialist. For those patients having a complete neurological assessment, an additional appointment will be made with Dr Mossman.

If you wish to proceed, please phone or email for an appointment or query: