Table of Contents
Advances in Otolaryngology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 792635, 17 pages
Review Article

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: An Integrated Perspective

Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-6228, USA

Received 9 February 2014; Accepted 31 May 2014; Published 17 July 2014

Academic Editor: Ryosei Minoda

Copyright © 2014 Kourosh Parham. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the most common cause of dizziness, occurs in all age groups. It presents with vertigo on head movement, but in older patients presentation may be typical and thus accounting for a low recognition rate in the primary care setting. It may be recurrent in up to 50% of cases. BPPV is associated with displacement of fragments of utricular otoconia into the semicircular canals, most commonly the posterior semicircular canal. Otoconia are composed of otoconin and otolin forming the organic matrix on which calcium carbonate mineralizes. Otoconia may fragment with trauma, age, or changes in the physiology of endolymph (e.g., pH and calcium concentration). Presentation varied because otoconia fragments can be displaced into any of the semicircular canals on either (or both) side and may be free floating (canalolithiasis) or attached to the cupula (cupulolithiasis). Most cases of BPPV are idiopathic, but head trauma, otologic disorders, and systemic disease appear to be contributory in a subset. Positional maneuvers are used to diagnose and treat the majority of cases. In rare intractable cases surgical management may be considered. A strong association with osteoporosis suggests that idiopathic BPPV may have diagnostic and management implications beyond that of a purely otologic condition.