Macroglossia associated with brainstem injury

Neurocrit Care. 2014 Feb;20(1):106-10. doi: 10.1007/s12028-013-9901-7.


Background: Macroglossia has been reported in patients undergoing posterior fossa neurosurgical procedures and is thought to be as a result of venous engorgement from intubation or mechanical positioning during these prolonged procedures.

Methods: We report three patients who developed macroglossia and dysautonomia of central neurogenic origin following brainstem injury.

Results: The three patients developed macroglossia and dysautonomia with wide hemodynamic fluctuations in the setting of posterior fossa injury of the lower brainstem structures, necessitating tracheostomy placement. Macroglossia was managed with dexamethasone and there was complete resolution of dysautonomia while treated with beta-blockers and gabapentin.

Conclusions: Neurointensivists should be aware of macroglossia with dysautonomia complicating brainstem injury, which may have perilous consequences in the setting of cerebral edema or intracranial hypertension.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Amines / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / etiology
  • Brain Stem / injuries*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / injuries
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gabapentin
  • Humans
  • Macroglossia / drug therapy
  • Macroglossia / etiology*
  • Macroglossia / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Dysautonomias / drug therapy
  • Primary Dysautonomias / etiology
  • Tracheostomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / therapeutic use


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Amines
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Gabapentin
  • Dexamethasone