European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 273, Issue 10, pp 3421–3427 | Cite as

Surgical management of Eagle’s syndrome: an approach to shooting craniofacial pain

  • Yoshihiko Kumai
  • Tadashi Hamasaki
  • Eiji Yumoto


Eagle’s syndrome (ES) and glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN) display very similar symptoms preoperatively. The objective of this study is to determine the surgical outcome of intraoral resection of the styloid process (IRSP) for ES, and to observe preoperative findings and treatment outcome of our cases presenting shooting craniofacial pain. In total, 14 symptomatic patients who presented with typical shooting craniofacial pain, had a styloid process longer than 25 mm, and underwent surgical intervention or medication alone from 2011 to 2015 were involved. They were divided into two groups: Group I included eight patients who underwent surgery following 3 months of medication failure, and Group II included six patients who received medication alone. Preoperative physical, radiographic findings and surgical outcomes were examined. In Group I patients, six cases received IRSP and five of those six cases experienced complete relief from symptoms and were confirmed as ES. Two other cases in Group I received microvascular decompression. One showed complete relief from symptoms, and was confirmed as GPN. The other case showed recurrence 1 year postoperatively, received IRSP with complete relief from symptoms, and was confirmed as ES. In Group II, three cases experienced complete relief from symptoms with 3 months of medication alone. IRSP is an effective treatment for ES. There was no clear difference in the preoperative findings for ES and GPN, suggesting the difficulty in making a preoperative differential diagnosis between the two conditions. Close cooperation between ENT and neurosurgery surgeons is needed.

Level of evidence IV.


Eagle’s syndrome Styloid process Glossopharyngeal neuralgia Microvascular decompression 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest


Research involving human participants and/or animals

This research involves human participants.

Informed consent

Written consent was obtained from all patients. Patients agreed that we could use clinical data obtained from this study for diagnosis and preoperative or postoperative evaluation for the purposes of research. Ethical approval was not necessary because this is a retrospective study and included no additional examination of the patients.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshihiko Kumai
    • 1
  • Tadashi Hamasaki
    • 2
  • Eiji Yumoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck SurgeryKumamoto University Graduate School of MedicineKumamotoJapan
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryKumamoto University Graduate School of MedicineKumamotoJapan

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