Tullio’s Phenomenon


Other Known AliasesSound-induced vestibular activation.

Definition – Vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and nystagmus caused by a load noise.

Clinical Significance This pathology is due to a communication between the middle and inner ear classically associated with congenital syphilis.  Recently, it has been associated with superior canal dehiscence syndrome (SCDS).  This can also be elicited with nose-blowing, valsalva, and heavy lifting.

History – Named after Italian biologist Pietro Tullio, Ph.D. (1881-1941), who originally studied this finding in pigeons and published it in 1929. 

Tullio blowing a whistle in the ear of rabbit test subject


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  7. Halmagyi GM, Curthoys IS, Colebatch JG, Aw ST. Vestibular responses to sound. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2005; 1039:54-67. [pubmed]

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