Click-evoked vestibulo-ocular reflex: stimulus-response properties in superior canal dehiscence

S. T. Aw*, M. J. Todd, G. E. Aw, J. S. Magnussen, I. S. Curthoys, G. M. Halmagyi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: An enlarged, low-threshold click-evoked vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) can be averaged from the vertical electro-oculogram in a superior canal dehiscence (SCD), a temporal bone defect between the superior semicircular canal and middle cranial fossa. Objective: To determine the origin and quantitative stimulus-response properties of the click-evoked VOR. Methods: Three-dimensional, binocular eye movements evoked by air-conducted 100-microsecond clicks (110 dB normal hearing level, 145 dB sound pressure level, 2 Hz) were measured with dual-search coils in 11 healthy subjects and 19 patients with SCD confirmed by CT imaging. Thresholds were established by decrementing loudness from 110 dB to 70 dB in 10-dB steps. Eye rotation axis of click-evoked VOR computed by vector analysis was referenced to known semicircular canal planes. Response characteristics were investigated with regard to enhancement using trains of three to seven clicks with 1-millisecond interclick intervals, visual fixation, head orientation, click polarity, and stimulation frequency (2 to 15 Hz). Results: In subjects and SCD patients, click-evoked VOR comprised upward, contraversive-torsional eye rotations with onset latency of approximately 9 milliseconds. Its eye rotation axis aligned with the superior canal axis, suggesting activation of superior canal receptors. In subjects, the amplitude was less than 0.01°, and the magnitude was less than 3°/second; in SCD, the amplitude was up to 60 times larger at 0.66°, and its magnitude was between 5 and 92°/second, with a threshold 10 to 40 dB below normal (110 dB). The click-evoked VOR magnitude was enhanced approximately 2.5 times with trains of five clicks but was unaffected by head orientation, visual fixation, click polarity, and stimulation frequency up to 10 Hz; it was also present on the surface electro-oculogram. Conclusion: In superior canal dehiscence, clicks evoked a high-magnitude, low-threshold, 9-millisecond-latency vestibulo-ocular reflex that aligns with the superior canal, suggesting superior canal receptor hypersensitivity to sound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1087
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


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