Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 1778–1780 | Cite as

Swallowing: Is It a Carotid Massage Equivalent Causing Syncope in Patients With Neck Masses?

Case Reports/Clinical Vignettes


Syncope associated with the act of swallowing (deglutition syncope) and syncope associated with head and neck cancers have been documented independently. We present a case of syncope precipitated by a combination of both these mechanisms. It is important to recognize the coexistence of different hemodynamically significant mechanisms leading to syncope. A 66-year-old male recently diagnosed with head and neck cancer presented with syncope associated with eating. Diagnosis was complicated because of multiple factors in this patient, which individually could have led to syncope. The patient was on beta-blocker therapy, had a neck mass, and the episodes were associated with swallowing. Our hypothesis is that all these etiologies together led to the events but not in their typical mechanisms and raises the possibility that swallowing can be considered a carotid massage equivalent in patients with neck masses not physically extending to the carotid sinus.


swallowing head and neck cancer carotid massage 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUTCOM–CUChattanoogaUSA

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