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NINDS Wallenberg's Syndrome Information Page

Synonym(s):   Lateral Medullary Syndrome

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What is Wallenberg's Syndrome?

Wallenberg’s syndrome is a neurological condition caused by a stroke in the vertebral or posterior inferior cerebellar artery of the brain stem.  Symptoms include difficulties with swallowing, hoarseness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, rapid involuntary movements of the eyes (nystagmus), and problems with balance and gait coordination.  Some individuals will experience a lack of pain and temperature sensation on only one side of the face, or a pattern of symptoms on opposite sides of the body – such as paralysis or numbness in the right side of the face, with weak or numb limbs on the left side.  Uncontrollable hiccups may also occur, and some individuals will lose their sense of taste on one side of the tongue, while preserving taste sensations on the other side.  Some people with Wallenberg’s syndrome report that the world seems to be tilted in an unsettling way, which makes it difficult to keep their balance when they walk. 

Is there any treatment?

Treatment for Wallenberg's 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. 

What is the prognosis?

The outlook for someone with Wallenberg’s 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. 

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research related to Wallenberg’s syndrome in its laboratories at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and also supports additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure disorders such as Wallenberg’s syndrome.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Wallenberg's Syndrome Clinical Trials

Organizations

Column1 Column2
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX   75231-4596
inquiries@heart.org
http://www.heart.org
Tel: 800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) 214-373-6300

National Stroke Association
9707 East Easter Lane
Suite B
Centennial, CO   80112-3747
info@stroke.org
http://www.stroke.org
Tel: 303-649-9299 800-STROKES (787-6537)
Fax: 303-649-1328

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
8201 Corporate Drive
Suite 600
Landover, MD   20785
naricinfo@heitechservices.com
http://www.naric.com
Tel: 301-459-5900/301-459-5984 (TTY) 800-346-2742
Fax: 301-562-2401



Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated February 15, 2007