Tapia's syndrome in the intensive care unit: a rare cause of combined cranial nerve palsy following intubation

Acta Neurol Belg. 2015 Dec;115(4):533-7. doi: 10.1007/s13760-015-0500-6. Epub 2015 Jun 19.


Tapia's syndrome is characterized by unilateral paralysis of the tongue and vocal cord, and is caused by a concurrent lesion of both the recurrent laryngeal and hypoglossal nerves. The proposed mechanism in most patients is compression or stretching of these nerves on their extracranial course due to airway manipulation under general anaesthesia. As Tapia's syndrome is a rare and possibly devastating condition, recognition of the presence of concurrent paralyses is an important step in diagnosis and treatment. We report two cases of Tapia's syndrome as a complication of intubation in the intensive care unit.

Keywords: Hypoglossal nerve; Paralysis; Paresis; Recurrent laryngeal nerve; Tapia’s syndrome; Vocal cord paralysis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypoglossal Nerve Diseases / complications*
  • Hypoglossal Nerve Diseases / therapy*
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / complications*
  • Laryngeal Nerve Injuries / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tongue / physiopathology
  • Vocal Cords / physiopathology