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Gradenigo’s Syndrome in a Patient with Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media, Petrous Apicitis, and Meningitis

Nicholas Taklalsingh, Franco Falcone, Vinodkumar Velayudhan

(Department of Internal Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2017; 18:1039-1043

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.904648


BACKGROUND: Gradenigo’s syndrome includes the triad of suppurative otitis media, ipsilateral sixth (abducens) cranial nerve palsy and facial pain in the distribution of the fifth (trigeminal) cranial nerve. Gradenigo’s syndrome is rare, and the diagnosis is easily overlooked. This case is the first to report Gradenigo’s syndrome presenting with meningitis on a background of chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) and petrous apicitis (apical petrositis).
CASE REPORT: A 58-year-old male African American presented with headaches and confusion. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head showed petrous apicitis with mastoiditis and abscess formation in the cerebellomedullary cistern (cisterna magna). The case was complicated by the development of palsy of the fourth (trochlear) cranial nerve, fifth (trigeminal) cranial nerve, and sixth (abducens) cranial nerve, with radiological changes indicating infection involving the seventh (facial) cranial nerve, and eighth (vestibulocochlear) cranial nerve. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture results were positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae, sensitive to ceftriaxone. The patient improved with surgery that included a left mastoidectomy and debridement of the petrous apex, followed by a ten-week course of antibiotics. Follow-up MRI showed resolution of the infection.
CONCLUSIONS: This report is of an atypical case of Gradenigo’s syndrome. It is important to recognize that the classical triad of Gradenigo’s syndrome, suppurative otitis media, ipsilateral sixth (abducens) cranial nerve palsy and facial pain in the distribution of the fifth (trigeminal) cranial nerve, may also involve chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM), which may lead to involvement of other cranial nerves, petrous apicitis (apical petrositis), and bacterial meningitis.

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