Doctors use the Dix-Hallpike test (sometimes called the Dix-Hallpike maneuver) to check for a common type of vertigo called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV. Vertigo is the sudden feeling that you or your surroundings are spinning.
Inside your inner ear are three small structures called semicircular canals. They help you sense motion and keep your balance. BPPV happens when a tiny crystal of calcium breaks free from the wall of one of these canals and moves into the canal. That can cause vertigo or make you feel like you’re moving when you’re not.
Along with that spinning feeling, you also might have:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- A loss of balance or unsteadiness
- Unusual or repetitive eye movements
- A hard time concentrating
- Nausea or vomiting
You’ll probably have these when you move your head up and down or get in and out of bed. They typically last less than a minute.
What Happens During the Dix-Hallpike Test?
Your doctor will ask you to sit on the exam table with your legs stretched out. They'll turn your head 45 degrees to one side, then will help you lie back quickly so your head hangs slightly over the edge of the table.
This movement may make the loose crystals move within your semicircular canals. Your doctor will ask if you feel symptoms of vertigo and watch your eyes to see how they move.
After you have a few minutes to recover, your doctor may do the test on the other side of your head.
What Do the Results Mean?
If the Dix-Hallpike test didn't trigger any symptoms, your doctor may want to do other tests to figure out what's causing your issues.
If it did, your doctor may move your head in certain ways to help get the crystals out of your semicircular canals and into a place where they can be reabsorbed. Your doctor may teach you these movements so that you can do them at home if needed. BPPV often goes away on its own, but it can come back.