Even though trigeminovestibular connections are well established in animals, mastication-induced dizziness has been described only as a vascular steal phenomenon in humans. We determined induction or modulation of nystagmus in two index patients with mastication-induced vertigo, 12 normal controls, and 52 additional patients with peripheral (n = 38, 26 with vestibular neuritis/labyrinthitis and 12 with Meniere's disease) or central (n = 14, 11 with Wallenberg syndrome, two with cerebellar infarction, and one with pontine infarction) vestibulopathy during their acute or compensated phase. Both index patients developed mastication-induced vertigo after near complete resolution of the spontaneous vertigo from presumed acute unilateral peripheral vestibulopathy. The nystagmus and vertigo gradually built up during mastication and dissipated slowly after cessation of mastication. Brain MRI and cerebral angiography were normal in these patients. Mastication did not induce nystagmus in normal controls. However, mastication induced nystagmus in five (24 %) of the 21 patients without spontaneous nystagmus (SN) but with a previous history of a vestibular syndrome, and either increased (21/31, 68 %) or decreased (7/31, 23 %) the SN in almost all the patients (28/31, 90 %) with SN. Mastication may induce significant vertigo and nystagmus in patients with a prior history of acute vestibulopathy. The induction or modulation of nystagmus by mastication in both peripheral and central vestibulopathies supports trigeminal modulation of the vestibular system in human. The gradual build-up and dissipation suggest a role of the velocity storage mechanism in the generation of mastication-induced vertigo and nystagmus.
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