Eagle’s syndrome is an interesting disease to hear but a painful condition to experience. It is synonymous with the styloid syndrome, stylohyoid syndrome or styloid stylohyoid syndrome, styloid carotid artery syndrome. This disease was first described by a otorhinolaryngologist Watts Weems Eagle in 1937.
Eagle’s syndrome is a rare condition caused by the elongation or deviation of the styloid process (an elongation along the right or left side of the neck) and or hardening (calcification) of the stylohyoid ligament which interferes with the nearby organs and structures giving rise to pressure symptoms such as pain.
The exact cause is not known. But there is no specific lesion found which could lead to this syndrome.
Hence, it is labeled as a syndrome (cluster of symptoms) and not a disease.
How does Eagle’s syndrome present itself?
The possible signs and symptoms of eagle’s syndrome include:
- Ear pain (Otalgia)
- Difficulty in swallowing (Dysphagia)
- Sensation of foreign body in the throat
- Pain on swallowing
- Pain on turning the head especially towards the affected side
- Intense pain on examination along the neck
- Pain along the carotid artery (along the neck)
There are two forms of eagle syndrome, one is the classic form and other is called as the vascular type
The classic form of eagle’s syndrome presents itself with the following symptoms
- One sided sore throat,
- Ringing sounds or noises in the ears,
- Difficulty or painful swallowing,
- One sided facial and neck pain
- Ear pain
The vascular type of eagle’s syndrome has its own pressure symptoms due to the compression of the carotid artery by the elongated styloid process. This compression of the artery while turning the head can give rise to delayed blood supply to the brain thereby leading to a mini-stroke (transient ischemia attack).
How to diagnose eagle’s syndrome?
One has to be keen enough to observe and identify the symptoms pertaining to eagle’s syndrome. This being a rare syndrome is often misdiagnosed and treated symptomatically. The diagnosis is suspected when the patient presents with the symptoms of classic type of eagle’s syndrome like one sided neck pain, ear pain, sore throat or ringing in the ears. The unique feature which can help one to diagnose this condition is pain or any of the above symptoms on neck rotation.
The diagnosis of the vascular type is challenging and may require an expert opinion. Thorough examination of the neck is mandatory in order to confirm the diagnosis. One should always opt for CT Scan to get an clear idea about the case. An X ray of the affected side is the choice of investigation to see the extent of enlargement of the stylohyoid process.
What is the best treatment for eagle’s syndrome?
Surgery is the indicated treatment for both vascular and classical variety of eagle’s syndrome. A repair of the carotid artery is essential to prevent further complications and pressure symptoms. Many cases are also treated conventionally with pain killers, sedation and some pressure releasing injections. It gives a certain amount of pain free period which is not long lasting though. The patient finally has to opt for surgery. However, re-growth of stylohyoid process and relapse of the condition post surgery is a common occurrence.
If you found this information useful, do let us know in the comments section below. For more information, you may get in touch with Dr Rajesh Shah’s associate doctors at LifeForce Homeopathy. You can do so by giving us a call at +91-22-66888888 or writing in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Dr Kanchan Gohil, Associate Doctor to Dr Rajesh Shah, Team LifeForce