March 18, 2010

Treatment of Horner’s Syndrome

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Also known as oculosympathetic palsy or Bernard-Horner syndrome, Horner’s syndrome is an ailment of the sympathetic nervous system. It is caused by the interruption of the oculosympathetic nerve pathway. This interruption originates somewhere between the hypothalamus and the eye. Horner’s syndrome can affect people of all age groups, races, and genders.

Horner’s syndrome is the consequence of the disruption of the cervical sympathetic pathway that runs from the hypothalamus to the eye. The ailment may be central, postganglionic, or preganglionic, depending on its origin. Horner’s syndrome leads to the occurrence of lesions. Central lesions include syringomyelia, brain stem ischemia, and brain tumor, while peripheral lesions comprise cervical adenopathy, Pancoast tumor, aortic or carotid dissection, neck and skull injuries, and thoracic aortic aneurysm.

The ailment leads to occurrence of destructive lesions to the superior cervical ganglion and posterior retroparotid space. Horner’s syndrome also causes lesions to certain nerves associated with the sympathetic nervous system, which involves several cranial nerves.

The major causes of Horner’s syndrome are as follows:

  • The prominent cause of Horner’s syndrome is injury to the main artery (carotid artery) that supplies blood to the brain.
  • An injury to the nerves running down to the arms (referred to as brachial plexus) also causes Horner’s syndrome.
  • Another factor that causes this condition is tumors.
  • Horner’s syndrome is also caused by metastatic cancer, mediastinal mass, lymphoma, infection of middle ear, and lesions on the cervix.
  • Other major causes of the disease are migraines and strokes.

The major symptoms of Horner’s syndrome include ptosis, which may commonly be referred to as drooping eyelids. Horner’s syndrome also causes reduced sweating on the afflicted side of the face. Other symptoms of Horner’s syndrome include sinking of the eyeball into the face and constriction of the pupil. Sometimes, both the irises may be of different colors.

The treatment of Horner’s syndrome depends on the cause of the ailment. For example, if the disease is due to a tumor, surgical removal of the tumor is the only feasible way to relieve the symptoms. In case the disease is caused by a malignant tumor, radiation and chemotherapy are prescribed so as to relieve Horner’s syndrome. There are a variety of drugs like Acetophenazine, Levodopa, Chloroprocaine, and Lidocaine, which are instrumental in alleviating the symptoms of Horner’s syndrome. However, if the root cause of the ailment is congenital, the disease is incurable.