Charles Skinner Hallpike

Charles Skinner Hallpike (1900 – 1979) 300

Charles Skinner Hallpike (1900 – 1979) was an English otologist.

As an award-winning clinician and a researcher, Hallpike made many advances to the field of neurotology throughout his career, including the first description of the characteristic histopathological changes in Menière’s disease; the development of the bithermal caloric test; the Peep-Show technique for pure tone audiometry in young children; and finally the bed-side manoeuvre to diagnose BPPV and since named after him – the Dix-Hallpike manoeuvre.

  • Born 19 July 1900 Murree, India
  • 1924 – MRCS, MRCP
  • 1926 – MB BS from Guy’s Hospital, London
  • 1929 – Bernhard Baron research fellow, Ferens Institute of Otology, Middlesex Hospital
  • 1931 – FRCS
  • 1938 – Developed international reputation following his original description of the pathology of Meniere’s disease
  • 1944 – Aural physician and director of the Medical Research Council’s Otology Research Unit at the National Hospital, London
  • 1955 – Shambaugh Prize, Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum: CORLAS
  • 1956 – Fellow of the Royal Society. FRS
  • Died 26 September 1979

Medical Eponyms
Dix-Hallpike Test (1952)
  • Margaret Dix (1902-1991) and Charles Hallpike published a landmark paper in neuro-otology, looking at the three most common peripheral vertigo diseases: Meniere’s disease, vestibular neuritis and benign paroxysmal positional nystagmus.
  • They described a clinical bedside manoeuvre in detail, “Lagerungs Manoeuvre”, known now as the Dix-Hallpike test, to provide an immediate diagnosis of BPPV
The critical head position for positional nystagmus of the benign paroxysmal type
The critical head position for positional nystagmus of the benign paroxysmal type. The ‘Lagerungs manoeuvre. Queen Square Archives

Peep-Show technique for pure tone audiometry (1947)
  • Diagnosing deafness in children under the age of six is challenging because pure tone audiometry sounds are meaningless to young children and require explanation beyond their understanding.
  • Dix and Hallpike aimed to solve this problem by designing an apparatus called the “Peep-Show”, to enable young children to reliably respond to sounds. The apparatus consisted of a lamp and loudspeaker, and a box containing hidden pictures.
  • The tester shows the child that when the lamp and loudspeaker activate, the child can make the pictures appear by pressing a switch. After the child does this several times, the lamp is removed, and now only the loudspeaker activates.
  • A child who can hear the sound, will still press the switch when the sound occurs, to reveal the picture. A child who cannot hear the sound, will not.
  • The test allowed deafness to be identified and quantified in young children, enabling special education to commence at an early age.

Key Medical Contributions
  • 1938 – Hallpike and Carins were the first to describe the characteristic histological changes in Menière’s disease
  • 1942 – Hallpike and Fitzgerald developed bithermal caloric test
  • 1947 – Hallpike and Dix, developed Peep-Show technique
  • 1938-1965 he was a member of the Flying Personnel Research Committee and his knowledge of ear function in health and disease contributed much to the solution of aural problems in aviation.

Major Publications


Dr Charlotte Baker LITFL

Studied at Univerisity of Cambridge - BA MB BChir. British doctor working in emergency medicine in Perth, Australia. Special interests include primary care and emergency medicine.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.