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​Vestibular (Balance) Laboratory at UPMC

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The Vestibular Laboratory at UPMC's Center for Balance Disorders is a specialized facility designed to test your balance system.

When you come to the lab, technicians may perform several different types of tests depending on the kind of balance disorder you have.

Types of Balance System Tests

Caloric testing

In caloric testing, your vestibular laboratory technician will:

  • Place a very small balloon in your outer ear.
  • Gently fill the balloon with warm or cool water to stimulate the inner ear's balance mechanism.
  • Evaluate your responses by recording eye movements to determine the degree of vestibular (inner ear) responsiveness in each ear.

Ocular motor screening

In ocular motor screening, your lab tech uses visual stimuli and computer analysis to evaluate your eye movement control system.

Positional testing

In positional testing, your lab technician will place you in various body positions while recording your eye movements.

Responses may point to vestibular abnormalities.

Posturography testing

In posturography testing, you will stand on a computer-controlled platform that moves and look at a visual scene that also moves.

Your responses can indicate how well the inner ear is working.

Rotational testing

In rotational testing, you will sit in a gently rotating chair while a computer records your eye movements. Because rotation is a natural physiological stimulus to the inner ear, the results can provide an indication of how the central nervous system processes vestibular information.

In visual-vestibular interaction assessment — a test related to rotational testing — your lab tech will present you with a combination of visual and vestibular stimuli. This test provides information on how the brain processes visual and vestibular information.

Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials

Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) test a special portion of the inner ear called the saccule.

The saccule senses upward, downward, forward, and backward movements. It also senses whether you are upright.

During a VEMPs test, your vestibular lab tech will:

  • Have you listen to loud clicks in your ears.
  • Use small wires to record the electrical activity in your neck muscles. No electrical shocks are used.

Learn More About Balance System Tests

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Vestibular Disorders Association:


Contact Us

Call us to schedule an appointment at one of our Center for Balance Disorders locations.

UPMC Mercy Hearing and Balance Center
Phone: 412-647-2100

UPMC Center for Balance Disorders
Phone: 412-647-2125

Physical Therapy Office
Phone: 412-647-8091

University Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists (Oakland/Main Office)
Phone: 412-647-2100