The functional head impulse test: Comparing gain and percentage of correct answers

Maurizio Versino, Silvia Colnaghi, Giulia Corallo, Marco Mandalà, Stefano Ramat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The video head impulse test (vHIT) provides as output a gain value that summarizes the behavior of the vestibulo-ocular reflex as the ratio of a measure of eye movement to the corresponding measure of head movement and is not directly informative of the functional effectiveness of the motor response. The functional HIT (fHIT) is based on the ability to recognize the orientation of a Landolt C optotype that briefly appears on a computer screen during passive head impulses imposed by the examiner over a range of head accelerations; accordingly fHIT is a functional measurement of the vestibular-ocular reflex since it measures the capability to keep clear vision and to read during head movement.

METHODS: We compared the results of the fHIT with those of the vHIT and the results of the Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI) questionnaire in a group of 27 vestibular neuritis patients recorded acutely and at 3-months follow-up.

RESULTS: Both the vHIT and fHIT exams correctly classified all patients as abnormal on the affected side when tested in the acute phase. After a 3-month follow-up, both were able to show that compensation phenomena had occurred. Otherwise the data from the two techniques were not correlated. More specifically, the fHIT detected more abnormalities than the vHIT, for head rotation toward the healthy side, both in the acute phase and after 3 months, and for head rotation toward the affected side after 3 months. The asymmetry indices, that compare the performance of the healthy to the affected side, also were larger for the fHIT than for the vHIT both at onset and after 3 months. There was no significant correlation between the different vHIT and fHIT parameters and indices, or with the DHI values after 3 months.

CONCLUSIONS: The fHIT data are able to detect a difference between the healthy and the affected side in the acute phase, and they show an improvement after 3 months. fHIT detects more abnormalities than vHIT, but both these techniques lack a correlation with the DHI score.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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