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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Wallenberg syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Lateral medullary syndrome
  • PICA syndrome
  • Posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome
  • Vertebral artery syndrome
  • Wallenberg's syndrome
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Your Question

Is there a genetic factor? What are the personality changes? I know of depression but what about other changes?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What causes Wallenberg syndrome?

The most common cause of Wallenberg syndrome is stroke in the vertebral or posterior inferior cerebellar arteries of the brain stem (brain stem stroke).[1][2] However, several other disorders or conditions have also been reported as being associated with Wallenberg syndrome, including mechanical trauma to the vertebral artery in the neck, vertebral arteritis (inflammation of the walls of the arteries), metastatic cancer, hematoma, aneurysm of the vertebral artery, herpetic brainstem encephalitis, head injury, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), multiple sclerosis, varicella infection and brainstem tuberculoma (a rare form of tuberculosis).[2][3][4][5][6]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

Do genetic factors play a role in causing Wallenberg syndrome?

We were unable to locate information about genetic factors that may play a role in the development of Wallenberg syndrome.
Last updated: 3/19/2012

What mental and/or personality changes have been reported in individuals with Wallenberg syndrome?

Although we were unable to locate information in the medical literature about mental and/or personality changes in individuals with Wallenberg syndrome specifically, there is information regarding emotional disturbances that are common amongst individuals who have had a stroke. Many people who survive a stroke feel fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, uncontrolled emotions, and a sense of grief for their physical and/or mental losses. These feelings are a natural response to the psychological trauma of having had a stroke. Some of the emotional disturbances and personality changes are caused by the physical effects of brain damage, while others are caused by difficulty in coping with the condition. Clinical depression appears to be the most common emotional disorder experienced by stroke survivors. Post-stroke depression can typically be treated with antidepressant medications and psychological counseling.[1]

The National Stroke Association has an informative publication entitled "Recovery After Stroke: Coping with Emotions" which can be viewed by clicking here.

Other mental or personality changes may occur in affected individuals depending upon the underlying cause of Wallenberg syndrome in each case.
Last updated: 3/19/2012

  • NINDS Wallenberg's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). February 15, 2007; Accessed 3/13/2012.
  • Qiu W, Wu JS, Carroll WM, Mastaglia FL, Kermode AG. Wallenberg syndrome caused by multiple sclerosis mimicking stroke. J Clin Neurosci. December 2009; 16(12):1700-1702.
  • DB Smith and BK Demasters. Demyelinating disease presenting as Wallenberg's syndrome. Report of a patient. Stroke. 1981; 12:877-888.
  • S.O. Kovacs, K. Kuban, R. Strand. Lateral medullary syndrome following varicella infection. Am J Dis Child. 1993; 147:823-825.
  • M.J. Lawson-Smith, S.J. Smith, J.C. Leach et al. Lateral medullary syndrome caused by penetrating head injury. J Clin Neurosci. 2006; 13:792-794.
  • Verma R, Sharma P. Lateral medullary syndrome due to brain stem tuberculoma. J Assoc Physicians India. June 2011; 59:382-384.