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J Laryngol Otol. 2007 Jul;121(7):680-3. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

Barré-Lieou syndrome and the problem of the obsolete eponym.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA.



Eponym lists in major sources can give an aura of legitimacy to discredited diagnoses, as exemplified by the case of Barré-Lieou syndrome, a 'rare' vestibular disorder.


A literature review for information on the posterior cervical syndrome of Barré-Lieou.


Barré-Lieou syndrome includes very common symptoms--tinnitus, dizziness, and head or neck pain--attributed to ischaemia caused by cervical sympathetic nerve compression. Its original description brings together many unrelated disorders, and its causative mechanism has been discredited. However, it appears credulously in a number of eponym lists, and references to the syndrome are steadily increasing on the internet in general and on alternative medicine and legal profession websites in particular.


By inclusion in eponym lists, without a disclaimer, a syndrome can be given legitimacy before the general public. A syndrome, such as Barré-Lieou syndrome, that is useless to the medical profession can unfortunately prove to be very useful for litigants and disability claimants.

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