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Ertl, Matthias; Bögle, Rainer; Kirsch, V. and Dieterich, M. (2016): On the impact of examiners on latencies and amplitudes in cervical and ocular vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials evaluated over a large sample (N=1,038). In: European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Vol. 273, No. 2: pp. 317-323

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Vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials (VEMPs) are frequently used in the clinical diagnosis and research of vertigo syndromes. Altered latencies or amplitudes are typically interpreted as an indication of disturbance in the processing of vestibular stimuli along the otolithic pathways. Correct interpretation, however, can be difficult as VEMP amplitudes can vary greatly across subjects and across laboratories, likely because they are very sensitive to measurement conditions. Here, we attempted to quantify the impact of examiner differences on VEMP data. We collected data from 1,038 people using eight different experimental examiners, and investigated the effect of examiner on VEMP latencies and amplitudes. We found that the examiner collecting the data had a strong effect on outcome measures with significant differences (p < 0.001) in cVEMP and oVEMP latencies and in oVEMP amplitudes. No significant differences between examiners were found for the cVEMP amplitudes. When we compared the healthy and pathological sides of patients with a clinically diagnosed unilateral disease, no significant differences between sides were found. Given our results and the results reported in the literature, we conclude that the signal features of VEMPs are very sensitive to variables that may be influenced by the examiner. The field should therefore work on a better standard for VEMP recordings.

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