Vestibular findings in a group of 35 patients with spasmodic torticollis without other otological or neurological symptoms were reviewed. The most consistent abnormality, present in more than 70% of cases, was a directional preponderance of vestibular nystagmus in the dark in a direction opposite to the head (chin) deviation. Rigidly clamping the head to a rotating chair did not abolish the directional preponderance. In the presence of optic fixation the directional preponderance was less frequent and its severity tended to diminish as a function of the duration of the disease. Smooth pursuit and optokinetic nystagmus were only occasionally affected. The results are indicative of primary involvement of the vestibular system in spasmodic torticollis and are discussed in terms of a break-down of the central mechanisms conveying sensory information responsible for head and eye orientation.
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