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Electronystagmogram (ENG)

How It Feels

You may feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated during an electronystagmogram. You may feel as if you are going to fall down during the test, but don't worry—the doctor or audiologist will make sure you do not fall. These feelings will go away when the test is done.

If you are having the test because you have dizziness or vertigo, you may find that the test causes your condition to be worse for a short time.

During the caloric test, you may feel nauseous and may vomit. You may need to lie down until the nausea and vomiting or vertigo pass.

Risks

An electronystagmogram may cause vomiting. There is a small chance of causing a neck or back problem to get worse during the test because of the quick body movements that are done.

Results

An electronystagmogram (ENG) measures normal eye movement and involuntary rapid eye movements called nystagmus. It also checks the muscles that control eye movements. ENG checks how well the eyes, inner ears camera.gif, brain, and nerves connecting them help you keep your balance and position (such as when you change from lying down to standing). Results are recorded as normal or abnormal.

Normal

Test results are normal if there are no abnormal involuntary eye movements during the test. Some nystagmus occurs normally when you turn your head.

Results of the caloric test are normal if involuntary eye movements have normal direction and intensity.

Abnormal

Test results are abnormal if there is nystagmus with head-turning that does not go away in a specific or normal length of time. The results of the caloric test are abnormal if there are fewer eye movements or no eye movement during the test. Abnormal results may:

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking some medicines, such as stimulants (including caffeine), depressants, sedatives, and medicines to help vertigo.
  • Too many movements of the head or other eye movements, such as blinking.
  • Not being able to do what is asked during the test. Medical conditions that affect attention, poor eyesight, or cause sleepiness can affect the test results.

What To Think About

  • At some centers you can't have an electronystagmogram if you have a pacemaker because the tool that measures eye movements can affect pacemaker function.
  • Because an electronystagmogram can't find some inner ear problems, a normal result does not mean an inner ear condition is not present.
  • To check for hearing loss or tinnitus, other tests such as audiometry or an auditory brain stem response (ABR) test may be done. If a tumor or stroke is suspected in a certain part of the brain, a CT scan or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 10, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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