What Is a VNG Ear Test?

A videonystagmography, or VNG test, is a procedure to evaluate dizziness and more accurately determine if the inner ear is causing it. This procedure typically requires a referral by an ear, nose, and throat specialist (also known as an ENT) such as our Anchorage physicians or a neurologist or physical therapist. You’ll also need to have a hearing evaluation prior to the procedure.

How is a VNG test performed?

During the procedure, the patient will wear a pair of virtual reality-like goggles with cameras to measure eye movements. These eye movements are called nystagmus, and they are related to the inner ear. The results also provide specificity of which ear is causing the dizziness, as well as whether it is peripherally (i.e., at ear level) or centrally located (i.e., in the brain).

An ENT patient at our Anchorage practice wears a set of VNG goggles.

The procedure itself is a series of four tests, lasting about 90 minutes.

  • The first test evaluates rapid eye movements, called saccades.
  • Then the patient follows a target that moves smoothly and is tracked with the eyes.
  • The third part is a positional test. In this part of the evaluation, the patient’s head is placed in various positions to monitor for nystagmus.
  • Finally, calorics are evaluated. Caloric testing measures the ear’s responses to cool and warm temperatures administered by air or water.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus site offers additional helpful information about the procedure on its videonystagmography page.

Another view of an ENT patient at our Anchorage practice during a VNG evaluation.

How do I prepare for a VNG test?

Unlike most evaluations administered by our hearing instrument specialists or our audiologist in Anchorage, the VNG evaluation requires a few preparations prior to the test day. The most important preparation is to avoid certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Meclizine or any medications to help subside the dizziness cannot be taken 48 hours prior to the evaluation.

In addition, avoiding caffeine and nicotine products is required. It is always recommended that the patient brings someone to drive them home following the procedure.

How do I learn more about VNG testing?

If you have additional questions about VNG testing, feel free to leave a comment below. For general hearing or ear, nose, and throat concerns, you can request a consultation with one of our providers using our online contact form or you can call us at (907) 279-8800 to schedule an appointment.

For your convenience, we also offer telehealth consultations with our experienced providers, and you can learn more about that process in our related blog post. Our ear, nose, and throat patients come from Fairbanks, Wasilla, and throughout the Anchorage area.