Diagnosing Stroke in Acute Vertigo: The HINTS Family of Eye Movement Tests and the Future of the "eye ECG"

David E. Newman-Toker, Ian S. Curthoys, G. Michael Halmagyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Patients who present to the emergency department with symptoms of acute vertigo or dizziness are frequently misdiagnosed. Missed opportunities to promptly treat dangerous strokes can result in poor clinical outcomes. Inappropriate testing and incorrect treatments for those with benign peripheral vestibular disorders leads to patient harm and unnecessary costs. Over the past decade, novel bedside approaches to diagnose patients with the acute vestibular syndrome have been developed and refined. A battery of three bedside tests of ocular motor physiology known as HINTS (head impulse, nystagmus, test of skew) has been shown to identify acute strokes more accurately than even magnetic resonance imaging with diffusion-weighted imaging (MRI-DWI) when applied in the early acute period by eye-movement specialists. Recent advances in lightweight, high-speed video-oculography (VOG) technology have made possible a future in which HINTS might be applied by nonspecialists in frontline care settings using portable VOG. Use of technology to measure eye movements (VOG-HINTS) to diagnose stroke in the acute vestibular syndrome is analogous to the use of electrocardiography (ECG) to diagnose myocardial infarction in acute chest pain. This eye ECG approach could transform care for patients with acute vertigo and dizziness around the world. In the United States alone, successful implementation would likely result in improved quality of emergency care for hundreds of thousands of peripheral vestibular patients and tens of thousands of stroke patients, as well as an estimated national health care savings of roughly $1 billion per year. In this article, the authors review the origins of the HINTS approach, empiric evidence and pathophysiologic principles supporting its use, and possible uses for the eye ECG in teleconsultation, teaching, and triage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-521
Number of pages16
JournalSeminars in neurology
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Keywords

  • diagnosis
  • dizziness
  • eye-movement measurements
  • neurologic examination
  • reflex
  • stroke
  • vertigo
  • vestibulo-ocular
  • vestibulocochlear nerve diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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