Bedside device accurately determines if extremely dizzy people are having a stroke, researchers find

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A bedside device that measures eye movements could become a standard way of determining if extreme dizziness is being caused by a stroke, researchers say.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers performed a study on 12 people using a portable video-oculography machine, which was 100% accurate in determining whether dizziness was being caused by a stroke. If larger studies confirm these results, the machine could be used in the same way electrocardiograms are used to diagnose heart attacks, says study leader David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D.

The machine consists of goggles connected to a webcam, laptop and accelerometer. It mimics a horizontal head impulse test, which is a very accurate way to determine if dizziness is linked to a stroke. However, this test requires a clinician with expert judgment of a patient's eye movements. The video-oculography machine eliminates the need for this high level of human expertise. It could be “easily employed” to prevent as many as 100,000 stroke misdiagnoses annually, Newman-Toker says.

The study participants were treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. The machine determined six participants were experiencing a stroke and six were experiencing benign dizziness, and MRIs confirmed all 12 results, according to the researchers. The machine is not yet approved for general use in the United States but is used overseas.

The study results appear in the journal Stroke.