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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Eagle syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Eagle's syndrome
  • Elongated styloid process syndrome
  • Elongated styloid process which causes cervico facial pain tinnitus and otalgia
  • Styloid-stylohyoid syndrome
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Your Question

How rare is Eagle syndrome?  Is surgery the best treatment? What kind of doctor would perform this surgery?

Our Answer

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

How rare is Eagle syndrome?

An elongated styloid process occurs in about 4% of the general population, however only a small percentage (between 4-10.3%) of these patients have symptoms.  Therefore, the true incidence of the condition is about 0.16%.  There is said to be three times as many affected females than males.[1]
Last updated: 12/2/2011

How might Eagle syndrome be treated?

In general, treatment of Eagle syndrome is both surgical and nonsurgical.[2] Nonsurgical treatments include reassurance, a diet of soft foods, use of an intra-oral splint, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (analgesics), anticonvulsants, antidepressants, local steroid injections or long-acting anesthetic agents, and manual (chiropractic) therapy.[2][3][1]  The experimental use of radiofrequency therapies upon the affected nerves may also be an option, but is considered experimental at this time.[4] 

Surgical treatment involves removal of the extension of the styloid process that is causing the pain.[2][1] This surgery can carry risks, including scarring from the site of surgery or continued pain from Eagle syndrome or from surgical complications such as damage to the carotid vessels or the nerves in the area.[1]

Last updated: 12/2/2011

Is surgery the best treatment for Eagle syndrome?

Many cases of Eagle syndrome can be treated with nonsurgical treatments. Only severe cases, which do not respond to such treatments, require surgery.[4]
Last updated: 12/2/2011

What kind of doctor performs surgery for Eagle syndrome?

Otolaryngologists (ENT physicians) are doctors trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery provides a searchable database of specialists in your area.
Last updated: 12/2/2011