Penn Otorhinolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery

The Penn Balance and Dizziness Center

Penn Medicine's Balance and Dizziness Center provides diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to balance, dizziness, vertigo and unsteadiness. Penn clinicians have decades of experience diagnosing and treating even the most difficult cases of balance disorders.

The Balance and Dizziness Center, part of the Penn Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as best in the Philadelphia region and one of the top in the nation.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Balance and Dizziness

Diagnosing the cause of dizziness and balance problems can be difficult since balancing is a very complicated part of the body's functions. Maintaining balance requires input from the vestibular system (inner ear), somatosensory system (sensory receptors in the skin, muscles and joints) and visual system (eyes). If any of these systems is malfunctioning, it can result in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vertigo
  • Frequent falls

Depending on your symptoms, you may be experiencing one of the following conditions:

  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Labrynthitis or vestibular neuritis
  • Unilateral or bilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction
  • Central vestibular dysfunction
  • Migrainous vertigo
  • Acoustic neuroma/vestibular schwannoma
  • General balance dysfunction

Balance and Dizziness Tests and Evaluation

Balance testing begins with understanding a patient's neurotologic symptoms and history. We also have you fill out a comprehensive questionnaire and conduct a detailed interview with you. Depending on your history and symptoms, we will determine which battery of tests is best for you to undergo:

  • Audiologic Assessment
    Some inner ear disorders can manifest as both dizziness and hearing deficits. Tone and speech audiometry assessments will demonstrate the type and degree of hearing loss, as well as word discrimination abilities. Acoustic immittance assessments provide information regarding the integrity of middle ear mechanisms.
  • Posturography
    This assessment determines how a patient uses visual, somatosensory and vestibular inputs to maintain balance. It also tests your ability to coordinate your lower and upper body reactions to maintain stance when equilibrium is disrupted.
  • Videonystagmography (VNG)
    VNG evaluates the vestibular-ocular reflex, which allows the inner ear to sense motion and provides stable vision during head and body movements. VNG results provide us with insight about inner ear function and the parts of the brain responsible for balance.
  • Rotational Chair Test
    The rotational chair test evaluates how the inner ear responds to various types of motion and provides information about physiologic compensation status. In cases where both inner ears are weak, this test can give insight into the extent of the bilateral weakness.
  • Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPS)
    VEMPs provide assessment of the part of the inner ear responsible for sensing gravity and various movements of the head and body.

Treatment for Balance and Dizziness

After completing balance testing, our team of balance specialists will develop a customized treatment plan for you. We offer the most comprehensive array of treatments and services for patients with dizziness and balance disorders in the region. Treatments depend on your condition and include:

  • Recommended lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, weight loss and exercise
  • Medication to control disorders of the inner ear and brain
  • Surgery and in-office procedures
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation

Our ultimate goal is to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of dizziness and imbalance, and prevent falls so that you can get back to your normal daily activities.

Balance Center Physicians & Audiologists

The Center uses a multidisciplinary approach to care. Together with specialists in the area of Otorhinolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, neurology, neuroradiology, audiology, and physical therapy, we address each patient's medical and rehabilitative needs.

This multidisciplinary approach to patient care makes our facility a unique and outstanding resource for people with dizziness or balance problems, as well as the health care providers who work with them.

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Please complete the Balance Function Questionnaire and bring it with you when you come for your balance function testing.