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In medicine, the caloric reflex test is a test of the vestibulo-ocular reflex. It is used by audiologists and other trained professionals to validate a diagnosis of asymmetric function in the peripheral vestibular system. Calorics are usually a subtest of the electronystagmography (ENG) test battery.

Technique and results[edit | edit source]

It involves irrigating cold or warm water or air into the external auditory canal.

  • If the water is cold (30oC) the eyes turn toward the ipsilateral ear, with horizontal nystagmus (quick horizontal eye movements) to the contralateral ear.[1][2]
  • If the water is warm (44oC) the eyes turn toward the contralateral ear, with horizontal nystagmus to the ipsilateral ear.
  • Absent reactive eye movement suggests vestibular weakness of the horizontal semicircular canal of the side being stimulated.

Mnemonic[edit | edit source]

Mnemonics are common in the medical literature. One mnemonic used to remember the direction of nystamgus is COWS.[3]

COWS: Cold water = nystagmus to the Opposite side, Warm water = nystagmus to the Same side.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bardorf CM, Van Stavern GP. Nystagmus, Acquired. URL: Accessed on: August 17, 2006.
  2. Narenthiran G. Neurosurgery Quiz. Annals of Neurosurgery. URL: Accessed on: August 17, 2006.
  3. Webb C (1985). COWS caloric test.. Ann Emerg Med 14 (9): 938. PMID 4026002.

External links[edit | edit source]

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