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Vestibular assessment for cochlear implant candidates

Patient information A-Z

This leaflet is for cochlear implant candidates who are due to have a vestibular (or balance) assessment. It explains what a vestibular assessment involves and tells you what you need to do before you come for your appointment.

What does the assessment involve?

You will be seen by a clinical audiologist for an appointment of one hour. If you have had recent dizziness or balance problems you may be seen for a longer appointment lasting two hours. After testing they will explain the results to you, and will write a full report back to your referring consultant. The testing carried out is partly dependent on your individual case but is likely to involve:

  • questions about any dizziness and/or balance problems, and your general medical history
  • assessment of your standing balance
  • assessment of the balance function in each ear by introducing warm and cool water or air into each ear and measuring your eye movements using ‘video goggles’

Is there anything else I should know about my assessment appointment?

  • Some of the tests are performed with goggles over the eyes so you will not be able to see out.
  • There is a slight chance that you may feel unsteady after your appointment, so, if possible, arrange for someone else to drive you home.
  • Please refrain from wearing make-up around the eyes as this can interfere with recording of your eye movements. Eye make-up may need to be removed.
  • Alcohol can influence testing. Please refrain from drinking alcohol for 48 hours before your appointment.
  • Antihistamines and medications for dizziness can influence testing. Please gradually reduce any such at least 48 hours before your appointment.
  • If you have contact lenses, please wear these in preference to glasses.

Communication during the appointment

If you use British Sign Language or your first language is not English and you require an interpreter please contact us in advance to ensure this is arranged. Many people find it helpful to bring someone to the appointment. Before each test, the audiologist will explain what is involved. The information is also written on cards, so you can read the instructions.


Cochlear implant surgery can affect the balance organs in the ears so it is important to know how much balance function is present in each ear. The results of the assessment may help the team decide which ear to recommend for implantation. The results will not affect whether you are suitable for a cochlear implant.


If a vestibular assessment is not carried out, the medical specialist will base your management on your history and examination in the clinic and other diagnostic tests as appropriate.


Some tests may make you feel dizzy; the audiologist will warn you when this might be the case. There is a slight chance that you may feel unsteady after your appointment.

Who can I speak to about my assessment?

Please call 01223 217797 to speak to a vestibular audiologist. If you use a textphone, you can use Typetalk. Please note that the audiology staff are unable to reply to emails unless a signed consent form giving informed agreement to email communication with the Audiology Department staff has been completed.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151