State Anxiety Subjective Imbalance and Handicap in Vestibular Schwannoma

Yougan Saman, Lucie Mclellan, Laurence Mckenna, Mayank B Dutia, Rupert Obholzer, Gerald Libby, Michael Gleeson, Doris-Eva Bamiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Evidence is emerging for a significant clinical and neuroanatomical relationship between balance and anxiety. Research has suggested a potentially priming effect with anxiety symptoms predicting a worsening of balance function in patients with underlying balance dysfunction. We propose to show that a vestibular stimulus is responsible for an increase in state anxiety, and there is a relationship between increased state anxiety and worsening balance function.

AIMS: (1) To quantify state anxiety following a vestibular stimulus in patients with a chronic vestibular deficit. (2) To determine if state anxiety during a vestibular stimulus would correlate with the severity of chronic balance symptoms and handicap.

METHODS: Two separate cohorts of vestibular schwannoma (VS) patients underwent vestibular tests (electronystagmography, cervical and ocular vestibular evoked myogenic potentials, and caloric responses) and questionnaire assessments [vertigo handicap questionnaire (VHQ), vertigo symptom scale (VSS), and state-trait anxiety inventory (STAIY)]. Fifteen post-resection VS patients, with complete unilateral vestibular deafferentation, were assessed at a minimum of 6 months after surgery in Experiment 1 (Aim 1). Forty-five patients with VS in situ formed the cohort for Experiment 2 (Aim 2). Experiment 1: VS subjects (N = 15) with a complete post-resection unilateral vestibular deafferentation completed a state anxiety questionnaire before caloric assessment and again afterward with the point of maximal vertigo as the reference (Aim 1). Experiment 2: state anxiety measured at the point of maximal vertigo following a caloric assessment was compared between two groups of patients with VS in situ presenting with balance symptoms (Group 1, N = 26) and without balance symptoms (Group 2, N = 11) (Aim 2). The presence of balance symptoms was defined as having a positive score on the VSS-VER.

RESULTS: In Experiment 1, a significant difference (p < 0.01) was found when comparing STAIY at baseline and at the peak of the subjective vertiginous response in post-resection patients with a unilateral vestibular deafferentation. In Experiment 2, VS in situ patients with balance symptoms had significantly worse state anxiety at the peak vertiginous response than patients without balance symptoms (p < 0.001), as did patients with a balance-related handicap (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Anxiety symptoms during a vestibular stimulus may contribute to a priming effect that could explain worsening balance function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2016


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