Horner Syndrome from a Pediatric Otolaryngology Perspective

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology








anhidrosis; Horner syndrome; miosis; neuroblastoma; pediatric otolaryngology; ptosis


© The Author(s) 2019. Introduction: Horner syndrome is described as the clinical triad of miosis, ptosis, and anhidrosis. In pediatric patients the condition may be congenital or acquired from neoplastic, infectious or traumatic conditions, including birth trauma. Most cases of pediatric Horner syndrome present first to a pediatric ophthalmologist however since the neural pathways involve the cervical sympathetic chain otolaryngologists should understand the pathophysiology to avoid delay in management of potentially malignant cases. Objectives: To aid otolaryngologists in recognizing and managing pediatric Horner syndrome by describing 3 unique cases from malignant, traumatic and/or congenital causes. Methods: Case report of 3 pediatric patients with Horner syndrome presenting to our pediatric otolaryngology department. Results: Case #1 is 5-month-old female with ptosis and a left level II 1.5 cm neck mass. Magnetic resonance imaging showed the mass displacing the common carotid artery and excisional biopsy revealed a poorly differentiated neuroblastoma. Case #2 is a 9-year-old female with anisocoria appearing after suffering a severe playground injury. Case #3 is a 3-year-old-male who developed ptosis and anisocoria following re-excision of a recurrent cervical lymphatic malformation. Conclusion: Pediatric Horner syndrome may be a benign finding that is easily overlooked but may reflect a serious underlying condition. Otolaryngologists should be aware of the pathophysiology and differential diagnosis, including malignant causes, to appropriately manage patients.

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