My watch list  

Lateral medullary syndrome

Lateral medullary syndrome
Classification & external resources
The three major arteries of the cerebellum: the SCA, AICA, and PICA. (Posterior inferior cerebellar artery is PICA.)
ICD-10 G46.3
DiseasesDB 10449
eMedicine emerg/834 
MeSH D014854

Lateral medullary syndrome (also called Wallenberg's syndrome and posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome) is a disease in which the patient has difficulty with swallowing or speaking or both owing to one or more patches of dead tissue (known as an infarct) caused by interrupted blood supply to parts of the brain.



It is the clinical manifestation resulting from occlusion of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) or one of its branches or of the vertebral artery, in which the lateral part of the medulla oblongata infarcts, resulting in a typical pattern.

Clinical features

Lateral medullary syndrome presents with the following symptoms:

Dysfunction Effects
lateral spinothalamic tract contralateral deficits in pain and temperature sensation from body
spinal trigeminal nucleus ipsilateral loss of pain and temperature sensation from face
nucleus ambiguus (which affects vagus X and glossopharyngeal nerves IX) dysphagia, hoarseness, diminished gag reflex
vestibular system vertigo, diplopia, nystagmus, vomiting
descending sympathetic fibers ipsilateral Horner's syndrome
central tegmental tract palatal myoclonus

An affected person may present with ataxia on the side of lesion. Hiccups are another common sign.


This syndrome is characterized by sensory deficits affecting the trunk and extremities on the opposite side of the infarct and sensory and motor deficits affecting the face and cranial nerves on the same side with the infarct. Other clinical symptoms and findings are ataxia, facial pain, vertigo, nystagmus, Horner's syndrome, diplopia and dysphagia. The cause of this syndrome is usually the occlusion of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) at its origin.

The affected persons have difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) resulting from involvement of the nucleus ambiguus, and slurred speech (dysphonia, dysarthria). Damage to the spinal trigeminal nucleus causes absence of pain on the ipsilateral side of the face, as well as an absent corneal reflex.

The spinothalamic tract is damaged, resulting in loss of pain and temperature sensation to the opposite side of the body. The damage to the cerebellum or the inferior cerebellar peduncle can cause ataxia.

Nystagmus and vertigo, which may result in falling, caused from involvement of the region of Deiters' nucleus and other vestibular nuclei.

Onset is usually acute with severe vertigo.  


Treatment for lateral medullary syndrome is symptomatic. A feeding tube may be necessary if swallowing is very difficult. Speech/swallowing therapy may be beneficial. 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.


The outlook for someone with lateral medullary syndrome depends upon the size and location of the area of the brain stem damaged by the stroke. Some individuals may see a decrease in their symptoms within weeks or months. Others may be left with significant neurological disabilities for years after the initial symptoms appeared.


This syndrome was first described in 1808 by Gaspard Vieusseux,[1]. First descriptions by Wallenberg were in 1895 (clinical) and 1901 (autopsy findings).

See also

Stroke Recovery


  1. ^ synd/1778 at Who Named It
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lateral_medullary_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE