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Romberg's test no longer stands up
  1. Martin R Turner
  1. Correspondence to Professor Martin R Turner, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, West Wing Level 6, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, OX3 9DU, UK; martin.turner{at}

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Romberg's test

The process of standing unsupported with eyes closed and feet together for 30 s relies on several integrated networks of the nervous system, including the vestibular apparatus, cerebellum, dorsal columns, trunk and leg muscle tone. My central assertion is that this is neither highly sensitive nor specific for its original purported purpose. In addition to primum non nocere, in this litigious era, is it sensible even to consider a test where the positive result is the patient falling to the floor? They do not fall of course. Rather, they may sway a little this way, then a little that …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Chris Allen, Cambridge, UK.

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