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Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a very common condition in the population and an important cause of acute vertigo or dizziness in patients presenting to an emergency department (ED). Despite this, abundant evidence shows that current ED management of patients with BPPV is suboptimal. Common ED management processes include brain imaging and treatment with vestibular suppressant medications such as meclizine, neither of which is recommended by current guidelines. The most efficient management of BPPV is to perform a bedside test (Dix‐Hallpike test) and then to treat the patients with a bedside positional (the Epley) maneuver. In this practical review we emphasize the efficient management for the most common form of BPPV—posterior canal BPPV. Using this management will reduce resource utilization (laboratory testing, brain imaging, specialist consultation), reduce ED length of stay, and reduce use of ineffective mediations that have side effects but little therapeutic effect. Application of these practices would improve important patient‐centered outcomes such as symptom reduction, radiation exposure, side effects from medications, and less need for urgent follow‐up with another health care provider. The article also discusses the approach to patients in whom the Dix‐Hallpike and/or Epley maneuvers do not seem to work. This includes a discussion the second most common variant of BPPV (horizontal canal BPPV) and criteria for safe discharge of patients. Another important advantage of learning BPPV best practices is that it is enormously satisfying for the clinician, not unlike treating a child with a nursemaid's elbow.
Academic Emergency Medicine – Wiley
Published: May 1, 2023
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