Head impulses reveal loss of individual semicircular canal function
We studied individual semicircular canal responses in three dimensions to high-acceleration head rotations ("head impulses") in subjects with known surgical lesions of the semicircular canals, and compared their results to those of normal subjects. We found that vestibular-ocular reflex (VOR) gains at close to peak head velocity in response to yaw, pitch and roll impulses were reliable indicators of semicircular canal function. When compared to normals, lateral canal function showed a 70-80% decrease in VOR gain at peak of yaw head velocity during ipsilesional yaw impulses. After the loss of one vertical canal function there was a 30-50% decrease in vertical and torsional VOR gain in response to ipsilesional pitch and roll impulses respectively. Bilateral deficits in anterior or posterior canal function resulted in a 80-90% decrease in vertical VOR gain during ipsilesional pitch impulses, while the loss of ipsilateral anterior and posterior canal functions will result in a 80-90% decrease in torsional VOR gain in response to ipsilesional roll impulses. Three-dimensional vector analysis and animation of the VOR responses in a unilateral vestibular deafferented subject to yaw, pitch and roll impulses further demonstrated the deficits in magnitude and direction of the VOR responses following the loss of unilateral lateral, anterior and posterior canal functions.
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