Eagle Syndrome: 3D endoscope-assisted anterior tonsillar fossa approach to styloid process

Am J Otolaryngol. 2021 May-Jun;42(3):102979. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2021.102979. Epub 2021 Feb 16.


Background: The aim of this study was to describe the potential advantages of the 3D endoscope-assisted anterior tonsillar fossa approach to elongated styloid process.

Methods: A 58 years-old woman was reported to our Department with one-year history of odynophagia, latero-cervical pain on the left side, and ipsilateral foreign body sensation. Pain was dull and intermittent in nature. The patient had visited different clinics, she had a physiatric and maxillo-facial evaluation with two dental extraction without any relief of the symptoms. On physical examination a hard-bony consistency area was palpated over left-sided tonsillar fossa, evocating severe pain. Three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) confirmed an anomalous length of the left styloid process and a diagnosis of Eagle's syndrome (ES) was made. After careful surgical and anesthesiology evaluation, we decided to proceed with the partial excision of the styloid process with a 3d endoscope-assisted transoral anterior tonsillar fossa approach (Reddy et al., 2020).

Results: The patient was relieved of her symptoms after the surgery and was discharged after 1 day. Postsurgical healing was uneventful, pharyngodynia was observed for the first 48 h and treated with anti-inflammatory medication. No early or late postoperative complications, including massive bleeding, neurovascular injury or infection, were encountered. At 1 year follow up visit the patient was still asymptomatic and the CT scan did not show any abnormalities. The 3D endoscope provided a high-quality magnification of the tonsillar fossa, which allow us to correctly identify the site of incision. Styloid process was identified through digital palpation. After sufficient dissection of the tip, the distal part of the elongated styloid process was osteotomised and retrieved with a curved instrument. Local hemostasis was achieved and wound was closed in layers.

Conclusion: Some authors suggested novel surgical approach for ES like transoral robotic surgery (Rizzo-Riera et al., 2020 [2]). We present the 3D endoscope-assisted anterior tonsillar fossa approach as a feasible alternative for the surgical management of ES. Our experience with this approach has been outstanding, guaranteeing an optimal vision and depth of the surgical field with safe manipulation of the instruments which avoided injuries to healthy tissue. Furthermore, 3d endoscope was a great didactic tool. In our opinion is not necessary to remove all the styloid process, as other authors suggest (Lisan et al., 2019 [3]), but is sufficient a partial styloidectomy after cutting the stylohyoid ligament.

Keywords: 3D endoscope; Anterior tonsillar fossa approach; Eagle Syndrome; Elongated styloid process; Partial styloidectomy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Natural Orifice Endoscopic Surgery / methods*
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / diagnostic imaging
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / pathology
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / surgery*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Palatine Tonsil / surgery*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Temporal Bone / abnormalities*
  • Temporal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Bone / pathology
  • Temporal Bone / surgery*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome

Supplementary concepts

  • Eagle syndrome