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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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Overview



What is Wallenberg syndrome?

What are the signs and symptoms of Wallenberg syndrome?

What causes Wallenberg syndrome?

How might Wallenberg syndrome be treated?


What is Wallenberg syndrome?

Wallenberg syndrome is a condition that affects the nervous system. Signs and symptoms may include swallowing difficulty; hoarseness; dizziness; nausea; vomiting; quick involuntary eye movements (nystagmus); balance and coordination problems; and Horner syndrome. It is often caused by a brain stem stroke.[1][2] Treatment generally focuses on the specific signs and symptoms present and may include use of a feeding tube for swallowing difficulty, speech and/or swallowing therapy, and medication for pain.[1]
Last updated: 3/16/2012

What are the signs and symptoms of Wallenberg syndrome?

Wallenberg syndrome may cause Horner syndrome and cerebellar ataxia. Horner syndrome can cause a lack of sensation on one side of the face and weakness of the palate, pharynx, and vocal cords which may result in difficulty swallowing and hoarseness. Cerebellar ataxia refers to uncoordinated muscle movement, which can cause walking problems (unsteady gait), sudden eye movements (nystagmus), and clumsy speech patterns (dysarthria). Other symptoms of Wallenberg syndrome may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste on one side of the tongue, uncontrollable hiccups, and vision disturbance. Wallenberg syndrome may also cause a loss of pain and temperature sensation in the side of the body that is opposite to where the stroke occurred.[1][2]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

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][3] 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).[3][4][5][6][7]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

How might Wallenberg syndrome be treated?

Treatment for Wallenberg syndrome focuses on the specific signs and symptoms associated with the condition. A feeding tube may be necessary if swallowing is very difficult. Speech/swallowing therapy may be helpful. In some cases, medication may be used to reduce or eliminate pain. Some doctors report that the anti-epileptic drug gabapentin appears to be an effective medication for individuals with chronic pain associated with the condition.[1]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

References
  1. NINDS Wallenberg's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). February 15, 2007; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/wallenbergs/wallenbergs.htm. Accessed 3/13/2012.
  2. Love BB, Biller J. Neurovascular System. In: Goetz CG. Textbook of Clinical Neurology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2007;
  3. 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.
  4. DB Smith and BK Demasters. Demyelinating disease presenting as Wallenberg's syndrome. Report of a patient. Stroke. 1981; 12:877-888.
  5. S.O. Kovacs, K. Kuban, R. Strand. Lateral medullary syndrome following varicella infection. Am J Dis Child. 1993; 147:823-825.
  6. 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.
  7. Verma R, Sharma P. Lateral medullary syndrome due to brain stem tuberculoma. J Assoc Physicians India. June 2011; 59:382-384.