Dysphagia, dysphonia and a deviated tongue: Diagnosing Collet-Sicard syndrome

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A healthy middle-aged man presents with symptoms of dysphagia and dysphonia following an upper respiratory infection, and is diagnosed and treated for complications of pharyngitis. He presents for evaluation at a tertiary care hospital after symptoms fail to resolve, with the final diagnosis being a carotid artery dissection with compressing pseudoaneurysm. This patient's constellation of symptoms and physical examination findings are consistent with Collet-Sicard syndrome, a rare disorder caused by cranial nerve compression at the skull base. Understanding the morbidity of missing, or delaying, a diagnosis of carotid artery pathology, such as Collet-Sicard syndrome, underscores the importance of an accurate diagnosis. A review of cranial nerve anatomy, surrounding structures and potential mechanism of injury to the carotid artery are emphasised as key learning points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere243154
JournalBMJ case reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 21 2021


  • cranial nerves
  • interventional radiology
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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