Clinician Article

The Epley (canalith repositioning) manoeuvre for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

  • Hilton MP
  • Pinder DK
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Dec 8;(12):CD003162. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003162.pub3. (Review)
PMID: 25485940
Read abstract Read evidence summary
  • Neurology
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 4/7
  • Surgery - Ear Nose Throat
    Relevance - 7/7
    Newsworthiness - 4/7
  • Internal Medicine
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 6/7
  • Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7


BACKGROUND: This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in The Cochrane Library in Issue 1, 2002 and previously updated in 2004 and 2007.Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a syndrome characterised by short-lived episodes of vertigo in association with rapid changes in head position. It is a common cause of vertigo presenting to primary care and specialist otolaryngology clinics. Current treatment approaches include rehabilitative exercises and physical manoeuvres, including the Epley manoeuvre.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of the Epley manoeuvre for posterior canal BPPV.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Trials Register; CENTRAL; PubMed; EMBASE; CINAHL; Web of Science; Cambridge Scientific Abstracts; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the most recent search was 23 January 2014.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials of the Epley manoeuvre versus placebo, no treatment or other active treatment for adults diagnosed with posterior canal BPPV (including a positive Dix-Hallpike test). The primary outcome of interest was complete resolution of vertigo symptoms. Secondary outcomes were conversion of a 'positive' Dix-Hallpike test to a 'negative' Dix-Hallpike test and adverse effects of treatment.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used the standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 11 trials in the review with a total of 745 patients.Five studies compared the efficacy of the Epley manoeuvre against a sham manoeuvre, three against other particle repositioning manoeuvres (Semont, Brandt-Daroff and Gans) and three against a control (no treatment, medication only, postural restriction). Patients were treated in hospital otolaryngology departments in eight studies and family practices in two studies. All patients were adults aged 18 to 90 years old, with a sex ratio of 1:1.5 male to female.There was a low risk of overall bias in the studies included. All studies were randomised with six applying sealed envelope or external allocation techniques. Eight of the trials blinded the assessors to the participants' treatment group and data on all outcomes for all participants were reported in eight of the 11 studies. Complete resolution of vertigo Complete resolution of vertigo occurred significantly more often in the Epley treatment group when compared to a sham manoeuvre or control (odds ratio (OR) 4.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.62 to 7.44; five studies, 273 participants); the proportion of patients resolving increased from 21% to 56%. None of the trials comparing Epley versus other particle repositioning manoeuvres reported vertigo resolution as an outcome. Conversion of Dix-Hallpike positional test result from positive to negative Conversion from a positive to a negative Dix-Hallpike test significantly favoured the Epley treatment group when compared to a sham manoeuvre or control (OR 9.62, 95% CI 6.0 to 15.42; eight studies, 507 participants). There was no difference when comparing the Epley with the Semont manoeuvre (two studies, 117 participants) or the Epley with the Gans manoeuvre (one study, 58 participants). In one study a single Epley treatment was more effective than a week of three times daily Brandt-Daroff exercises (OR 12.38, 95% CI 4.32 to 35.47; 81 participants). Adverse effects Adverse effects were infrequently reported. There were no serious adverse effects of treatment. Rates of nausea during the repositioning manoeuvre varied from 16.7% to 32%. Some patients were unable to tolerate the manoeuvres because of cervical spine problems.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence that the Epley manoeuvre is a safe, effective treatment for posterior canal BPPV, based on the results of 11, mostly small, randomised controlled trials with relatively short follow-up. There is a high recurrence rate of BPPV after treatment (36%). Outcomes for Epley manoeuvre treatment are comparable to treatment with Semont and Gans manoeuvres, but superior to Brandt-Daroff exercises.

Clinical Comments

Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)

A clearly under-used treatment...

General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)

Updated Cochrane review of 11 RCTs evaluating Epley maneuver for BPPV confirms the effectiveness of the maneuver, which is safe, generally well-tolerated and low cost. Practitioners should familiarize themselves with this procedure or identify a provider who can perform it.

Internal Medicine

This is a very nice systematic review of maneuvers to treat benign positional vertigo. This is a very common condition in primary care, and knowledge of best treatments is critical for physicians caring for this population. This well-done review clearly identifies Epley manouver as the best. This is a very important message.


Epley maneuver is standard therapy among those who treat benign positional vertigo. While it is helpful to have evidence that this is effective, the finding is not surprising nor will it likely change practice.

Surgery - Ear Nose Throat

For me as an ENT-surgeon, with a special interest in dizziness, this article confirms what we already know and daily practice.

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