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Library and Research

Research: Disability Specific Resources: Vestibular Disorders

Includes Dizziness, Inner Ear Disorders and Meniere's Syndrome.
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State Listings


Johns Hopkins School of Medicine-The Laboratory of Vestibular Neurophysiology studies the physiology of the vestibular system and how the system works to inform the brain about head movement and the movement of the body in space. This includes studying how the body responds to maintain balance. The lab’s website covers the anatomy of the vestibular system and how it works, and also information about two vestibular disorders that have been recently discovered by the lab’s research. These are Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome and Vertigo due to a hole in the bone above the Superior Semicircular Canal. Both of these conditions cause a person to become dizzy around loud noises. In Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome, a tear occurs in the superior canal because the bony part of the canal did not develop to a proper thickness. In the case of the hole in the bone above the superior canal, the balance canal responds to unusual stimuli such as loud noises or pressure in the inner ear from pushing on the outer ear or heavy lifting. These syndromes were discovered from a combination of studying patients who suffered dizziness from loud noises and studies of preserved temporal bones. This research also led to development of a surgical procedure for repairing the hole in the canal in Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome.

This lab’s website also has information about treating Meniere’s Disease with gentamicin. The lab has found that a lower dose of gentamicin can treat Meniere’s Disease effectively without as much hearing loss. For more information, contact the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, 6th floor Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, 601 N Caroline St., Baltimore, MD 21287, Phone: 410-955-1080, Fax: 410-955-6526 Research articles by members of the lab faculty are included on this site.


Washington University-The Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory does research on the fluids found in the inner ear. The Laboratory’s website is highly technical. The website includes information on the anatomy of the inner ear, the composition of the perilymph and endolymph, and the function of electrolytes in the inner ear. There are many diagrams throughout the website. There are also links to the Department of Otolaryngology at the Washington University School of Medicine and The Meniere’s Page. The Meniere’s Page has good information about Meniere’s Disease for the general reader. For more information write Alec N. Salt, PhD, Department of Otolaryngology, Campus Box 8115, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-362-7560, Fax; 314-362-7522, or e-mail salta@wustl.edu This site includes a publications by Alec Salt, links to the websites of the Journal of Neuroscience Methods and the House Institute and references under “Endolymph Flow in the Normal Cochlea.”

Washington University - Department Of Otolaryngology - School of Medicine has the following research laboratories. Washington University-The Clinical Vestibular Laboratory is a facility used for both clinical testing and research. The page describing this program provides information about the equipment available for testing vestibular function for diagnostic purposes and information about the research projects being conducted using this equipment. More information about these research projects can be obtained by using an e-mail link from this page. For more information write Joel A. Goebel, MD, Clinical Vestibular Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology, Campus Box 8115, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-362-7344, Fax: 314-362-7522 or e-mail goebelj@msnotes.wustl.edu

Washington University-The Hearing and Balance Research Laboratory does research in basic science, clinical treatment, and on marine mammals. The basic science program is studying how rotational movement is processed by the vestibular system and how animals use signals from the vestibular system to navigate in space. The clinical treatment program is developing new techniques for better testing, diagnosis, and monitoring of the recovery of patients with balance problems. The marine mammal program is studying the role of the vestibular system in the movement of whales, dolphins, seals, etc. through the water. There is also a link to information about the nature and treatment of Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo (BPPV) on the “Clinical Care” page. For more information, write Timothy E. Hullar, MD, Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8115, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-362-8641, Fax: 314-362-7522 or e-mail hullart@ent.wustl.edu This website includes a list of articles in basic science journals by T. E. Hullar et al.

Washington University-The Inner Ear Protein Database is a highly technical study of the biochemistry of the tissues and fluids of the inner ear. The project has focused on two areas: a general inventory of the proteins found in the inner ear and an inventory of the specific proteins that have a special affinity for the inner ear. The website is designed to find information by the names of proteins, by authors, or by the name of an inner ear fluid or tissue. To find a list of the proteins studied, click on “By list of all entries”. To read an overview of this project, click on “History of Database at Washington University”. An atlas of maps of the structures of the inner ear is a work still in progress. The project was started at Washington University but includes information from investigators around the world. References are listed throughout the website. Links to several databases and lists of databases and resources on the “Guide to the Medical Literature,” “Centers of Research,” and “Directory of Organizations.” For more information write to Drs. Ici and Ruedi Thalmann, Inner Ear Protein Database, Department of Otolaryngology, Campus Box 8115, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-362-7505 Fax: 314-362-7568 or e-mail thalmanni@ent.wustl.edu

Washington University - Vestibular Function, Regeneration, & Spatial Orientation Laboratory (Dept. of Anatomy & Neurobiology) studies the neurological basis of the perception of motion and how an organism reacts to the sense of motion. The lab is also interested in the reactions of the vestibular system in unusual environments such as travel in space. The projects this lab is engaged in include studying the development of the sense of motion, and the role of gravity in this development, in embryos; studying the regeneration of hair cells in the vestibular systems of some vertebrates; and studying how spatial orientation and navigational skills function in birds and monkeys. This website also has a good description of how the vestibular system works listed as “Vestibular system primer written by David Dickman”. The website includes links to other laboratories studying similar issues and to a number of other sources of information under "useful Links." Dickman Laboratory, Dept. of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Campus Box 8108, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phones: Lab: 314-747-7224/7223, Dr. Dickman: 314-747-7221, Fax: 314-747-7206 or e-mail ddickman@wustl.edu

Washington University - Vestibular Research Laboratory studies the function and structure of the nerves that serve the vestibular system and how their structure influences the function of these nerves. This project includes a study of the flexibility of the vestibular system in squirrel monkeys to learn new responses. The project is also interested in studying the affect of the vestibular system on eye movements. There are research articles included by S. M. Highstein et al. with a link to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Research and Training Center in Hearing and Balance. For more information, contact Stephen M. Highstein, MD, PhD, Vestibular Research Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology, Campus Box 8115, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-362-1012, Fax: 314-747-3444, highstes@medicine.wustl.edu


Uniiversity of Texas Medical Branch - Dr. Quinn’s Online Textbook of Otolaryngology is a collection of presentations of resident medical students in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. These presentations are called Grand Rounds and cover a wide variety of ENT topics. They are listed by year, with the latest year first, back to 1995. Earlier presentations are listed in a second group. Presentations about vestibular disorders and the vestibular system are scattered throughout the two lists. Two presentations about vestibular disorders listed for 2005 are “Evaluation of Vestibular Function” which covers the various tests used to evaluate the functioning of the vestibular system and “Controversies in Treatment of Meniere’s Disease” which covers the nature of Meniere’s Disease and information about a variety of possible treatments. More presentations about the vestibular system can be found throughout the two lists. The introductory page to this material emphasizes that these presentations are the work of medical residents and should be judged accordingly. Even so, the material on these pages is interesting and informative. (Note: The first group of presentations can be viewed in a variety of ways. Clicking on “DOC” will produce the text in Word.) References for each presentation are listed at the end of the presentation. For more information write Francis B. Quinn, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology, UTMB Otolaryngology, Route 0521, Galveston, TX 77555-0521, Phone: 409-772-2706, Fax: 409-772-1715 or e-mail fbquinn@utmb.edu


Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences - Research falls under the categories of "Basic Research Projects" and "Outcomes and Clinical Trials Research Unit". There are three research projects related to vestibular disorders listed under Basic Research and one under Clinical Trials Research. The studies listed under Basic Research that relate to the vestibular system are entitled "Molecular Basis of Vestibular Efferent Function", "Opioid Regulation of Camp in the Vestibular Epithelia" and "Differential Gene Expression in Vestibular Schwannoma" (ie: acoustic neuroma). These research projects study the vestibular system at the genetic and molecular level. Click on "Basic Research Projects" on the "Division of Research" page to read a short description of each of these projects.

The research project listed under Clinical Trials Research is entitled "Autonomic Dysfunction in Meniere's Disease." Click on "Outcomes and Clinical Trials Research Unit" on the "Division of Research" page to find this project listed at the end of a long list of projects (4th from the end). The listing does not include a description of the project.

Information about acoustic neuromas, Meniere's Disease, and tinnitus can be found on the Medical College of Wisconsin's HealthLink "Ears/Hearing" page. For information about treatment of inner ear disorders at the Medical College of Wisconsin, go to the Department of Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences website. The Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences is located at 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, Phone: 414-456-8296 or e-mail Webmaster@mcw.edu (Office of Public Affairs) Click on "ClinicLink" at the bottom of any page. Then type in "dizziness" in search box and click on Search. A list of resources on dizziness will come up from Medline Plus.




New Sign Vestibular Neurophysiology & Gaze Control Laboratory at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, studies how the vestibular system interacts with other systems, particularly vision, to help us know where we are in the environment and help us move through it. Three research projects are described in one paragraph for each. One project is studying how the brain distinguishes between vestibular messages generated by a person's own movement and those generated by activity in the environment. A second project, of particular interest to people with vestibular disorders, is studying "the physiological mechanisms that underlie vestibular compensation." This project is studying the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and how it recovers from vestibular damage. The third project is studying eye movements and nystagmus.

This website also includes a good basic description of the vestibular system and how it works. The fifth page of this introduction to the vestibular system explains the vestibulo-ocular reflex. For more information, write the Department of Physiology, 3655 Prom. Sir William-Osler, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1Y6, Phone: 514-398-5709, Fax: 514-398-8241 or send e-mail to kathleen.cullen@mcgill.ca. The section named "Publications" lists papers and books to which Kathleen E. Cullen has contributed.

For more on the topic of Vestibular Disorders

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