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Eagle Syndrome: A Rare Case of Atraumatic, Painful Cervical Neck Swelling

  • Author(s): Worden, Cameron P.
  • Bhandari, Sanjeeb S.
  • Cable, Benjamin B.
  • Kuehl, Damon R.
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: Painful neck swelling is a common emergency complaint but can present diagnostic challenges. Eagle syndrome is a rare clinical entity in which a pathologically elongated styloid process or ossified stylohyoid ligament produces a constellation of symptoms in the head and neck region.

Case Report: We present the case of a 50-year-old male with a spontaneous, atraumatic fracture of an elongated styloid process associated with hematoma formation and radiological findings of airway impingement.

Discussion: The classic triad for Eagle syndrome consists of unilateral cervicofacial pain, globus sensation, and dysphagia. Diagnosis of Eagle syndrome should be made based on a combination of physical examination and radiological findings. Treatment options vary based on severity of symptoms.

Conclusion: Although more likely to be an indolent and progressive complaint, providers in the acute care setting should be familiar with Eagle syndrome due to the potential for a spontaneous fracture of an elongated styloid process to cause acute, painful neck swelling and life-threatening airway compromise.

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