The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

Historical Article

Menière's disease: evolution of a definition

N. J. P. Beasleya1 c1 and N. S. Jonesa2

a1 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Walton Hospital, Liverpool, UK.

a2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK.


In 1861 Prosper Menière separated patients with episodic vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus from a group previously described as having apoplectiform cerebral congestion. He suggested the cause was disease within the semicircular canals (Menière, 1861). Over the years it becoame apparent that within this group there were a number of patients with characteristic signs and symptoms and in 1938 a pathological correlate was found in the form of endolympatic hydrops. Descriptions scuh as Menière's ‘Menière's ‘disease’, Menière's ‘syndrome’ and Menière' ‘symptom complex’ led to a confusing array of terms for this condition and monotoring of treatment results became difficult. In response to this in 1972 the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and Otolaryngoly Committee on Hearing and Equillibrium published a clear definition of Menière's disease and criteria for the reporting of treatment results, it was updated in 1985 and again in 1995. We described the changes that have taken place as the definition of Menière's disease has evolved.

(Accepted September 21 1996)


c1 Address for correspondence: Mr N. J. P. Beasley, 6, Sandlea Park, West Kirby, Wirral L48 0QF. Fax: 0151-529-4033


Presented at the British Society for the History of ENT, Birmingham, October 1994. Winner of the Junior Doctor presentation prize.