A Bone-Breaking Case of Syncope Due to Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

Christina Austin, Keerthana Karumbaiah, Bassam Omar

Abstract


Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is an uncommon cause of intense facial pain, and is rarely associated with syncope. We present a patient with malignant syncope precipitated by glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN), who sustained lower extremity fractures. A 64-year-old Caucasian female with hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2 and dyslipidemia, presented to the emergency department (ED) after a witnessed syncopal event. Over the preceding 9 months, she experienced multiple syncopal episodes triggered by neck pain, and was diagnosed with GPN by an ENT specialist. She reported a severe, stabbing pain in the right side of her neck prior to the event. Her vital signs and physical examination were unremarkable, except for bilateral leg tenderness. Laboratory data were within normal limits. Electrocardiogram revealed normal sinus rhythm, a rate of 72 beats per minute (BPM), and otherwise normal. Lower extremity X-rays revealed bilateral non-displaced fibular fractures. In the ED, she sustained another syncopal event, and bradycardia with transient heart rates as low as 22 BPM were documented. A temporary transvenous pacemaker was placed. She required pacing repeatedly for repeated bradycardic episodes preceded by right-sided neck pain. She was started on carbamazepine, without complete resolution of her symptoms on escalating doses. Due to recurrent bradycardia with frequent neck pains, requiring temporary pacing, an MRI-compatible permanent pacemaker was placed, to allow for further MRI recommended by neurology service. At 8-week follow-up, she had fully recovered from her neuralgic pain and fractures, without further syncope. This case emphasizes the potentially serious morbidity of GPN-induced syncope and importance of a prompt clinical diagnosis and treatment.




J Med Cases. 2014;5(8):459-462
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.14740/jmc1875w


Keywords


Glossopharyngeal neuralgia; Syncope; Bradycardia; Pacemaker; Bone fracture

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