Eagle syndrome

What is Eagle syndrome?

Eagle syndrome, also known as styloid syndrome, stylohyoid syndrome, or styloid-carotid artery syndrome, is a rare disorder of the stylohyoid ligaments that connect the skull with the hyoid bone of the neck. The condition may occur as a result of an elongated or misshaped styloid process (a slim pointed bone located just below the ear).

What are the symptoms?

Eagle syndrome is characterised by recurrent pain which occurs in the middle area of the throat, otherwise known as the oropharynx. Recurrent pain can also occur in the face, and the throat pain may feel worse or radiate further towards the ear as you turn your head.

Other symptoms of Eagle syndrome include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
  • Problems swallowing
  • The feeling something is stuck in your throat

Causes of Eagle syndrome

There is a small, pointy bone just below the ear called the styloid process. It is located 5 cm deep and connects the skull with the neck through the stylohyoid ligament.

The causes of Eagle syndrome are not completely understood, but the syndrome may also be related to the calcification or fibrosis of the styloid ligament, which usually occurs in middle-aged adults, although it can also affect young people, presenting a higher incidence in women than in men. There may also be a genetic factor in the appearance of Eagle syndrome.

Treatment of Eagle Syndrome

The treatment for Eagle syndrome varies depending on the symptoms.

Depending on the case, it may be medically managed by pain or anti-inflammatory medications, or even corticosteroid injections. In more severe cases, the styloid process is shortened through surgery. Techniques are frequently improving and developing, and more recently this surgery has been carried out using minimally-invasive techniques, such as an endoscope-assisted styloidectomy.

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