Torsional optokinetic nystagmus after unilateral vestibular loss: asymmetry and compensation.
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to analyse torsional optokinetic nystagmus (tOKN) in 17 patients with Menière's disease before and after (1 week, 1 month and 3 months) a curative unilateral vestibular neurotomy (UVN). The tOKN was investigated during optokinetic stimulations around the line of sight directed towards either the lesioned or the healthy side, at various constant angular velocities. Dynamic properties of tOKN and static ocular cyclotorsion were analysed using videonystagmography. Patients' performances were compared with those of 10 healthy subjects. The results indicate that, in the acute stage after UVN, patients exhibited drastic impairment of tOKN velocity that depended on the direction of stimulation: tOKN velocity increased for ipsilesional stimulations and decreased for contralesional stimulations. These changes were responsible for a dramatic tOKN asymmetry, with ipsilesional directional preponderance of torsional slow-phase eye velocity. The changes were associated with static ocular cyclotorsion towards the operated side. Despite progressive compensation of tOKN deficits over time, tOKN velocity still differed from that recorded preoperatively, and tOKN asymmetry remained uncompensated 3 months after UVN. A static ocular cyclotorsion remained up to 3 months after lesion. These results are the first description of tOKN deficits and recovery after unilateral vestibular loss. They show that vestibular cues contribute to gaze stabilization during optokinetic stimulation around the line of sight. They also strongly suggest that tOKN impairment could be part of the long-term asymmetrical functions reported after unilateral loss of vestibular functions.