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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo in an Airline Pilot

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Sen A, Al-Deleamy LS, Kendirli TM. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in an airline pilot. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:1060–3.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common types of peripheral vertigo, characterized by violent whirling vertigo after a positional change. Although the condition is termed “benign,” the clinical presentation can be incapacitating for pilots in certain maneuvers. We present a case of an airline transport pilot with the complaint of vertigo for 5 d. The vertigo was aggravated by head movements when looking up or rolling over, lasting for a few seconds. The patient was diagnosed with BPPV, and he was treated with physical therapy with the use of Epley maneuver. The airman applied for his First-Class medical examination after the treatment was successfully completed. The aviation medical examiner (AME) issued the airman medical certificate after contacting and receiving verbal approval from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Aerospace Medical Certification Division (AMCD). While evaluating aviators who have had BPPV, AMEs should not issue medical certificates for any class until the condition is fully resolved. Although the AME Guide states that certification of pilots with other types of vertigo requires an FAA decision, once the patient is successfully treated and free of symptoms, approval for issuing the medical certificate can be obtained through contacting AMCD and by submitting all information and documentation pertaining to the diagnosis and treatment.
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Keywords: BPPV; BPV; medical certification; medical incapacitation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, OK.

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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