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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Wallenberg syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Lateral medullary syndrome
  • Posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome
  • PICA syndrome
  • Vertebral artery syndrome
  • Wallenberg's syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I had a brain stem stroke one year ago and acquired Wallenberg syndrome.  Is there any research programs which I could volunteer for? How can I find out about any research being done on Wallenberg syndrome?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Wallenberg syndrome?

Wallenberg syndrome is a condition that affects the nervous system. Signs and symptoms may include swallowing difficulty; hoarseness; dizziness; nausea; vomiting; quick involuntary eye movements (nystagmus); balance and coordination problems; and Horner syndrome. It is often caused by a brain stem stroke.[1][2] Treatment generally focuses on the specific signs and symptoms present and may include use of a feeding tube for swallowing difficulty, speech and/or swallowing therapy, and medication for pain.[1]
Last updated: 3/16/2012

What are the signs and symptoms of Wallenberg syndrome?

Wallenberg syndrome may cause Horner syndrome and cerebellar ataxia. Horner syndrome can cause a lack of sensation on one side of the face and weakness of the palate, pharynx, and vocal cords which may result in difficulty swallowing and hoarseness. Cerebellar ataxia refers to uncoordinated muscle movement, which can cause walking problems (unsteady gait), sudden eye movements (nystagmus), and clumsy speech patterns (dysarthria). Other symptoms of Wallenberg syndrome may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of taste on one side of the tongue, uncontrollable hiccups, and vision disturbance. Wallenberg syndrome may also cause a loss of pain and temperature sensation in the side of the body that is opposite to where the stroke occurred.[1][2]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

What causes Wallenberg syndrome?

The most common cause of Wallenberg syndrome is stroke in the vertebral or posterior inferior cerebellar arteries of the brain stem (brain stem stroke).[1][3] However, several other disorders or conditions have also been reported as being associated with Wallenberg syndrome, including mechanical trauma to the vertebral artery in the neck, vertebral arteritis (inflammation of the walls of the arteries), metastatic cancer, hematoma, aneurysm of the vertebral artery, herpetic brainstem encephalitis, head injury, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), multiple sclerosis, varicella infection and brainstem tuberculoma (a rare form of tuberculosis).[3][4][5][6][7]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

How might Wallenberg syndrome be treated?

Treatment for Wallenberg syndrome focuses on the specific signs and symptoms associated with the condition. A feeding tube may be necessary if swallowing is very difficult. Speech/swallowing therapy may be helpful. In some cases, medication may be used to reduce or eliminate pain. Some doctors report that the anti-epileptic drug gabapentin appears to be an effective medication for individuals with chronic pain associated with the condition.[1]
Last updated: 3/19/2012

How can I learn about research involving Wallenberg syndrome?

The National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. While no studies involving Wallenberg syndrome specifically are listed at this time, there are a number of studies enrolling patients with brain stem stroke. To give you an idea of the type of trials you can find, we have listed a few below. Click on the study title to learn more. You can review the trials 'eligibility' criteria to determine its appropriateness and can use the study’s contact information to learn more.

Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Occupational Therapy To Enhance Stroke Recovery
Use of Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation After Stroke
Role of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Stroke Appearance
Vertebrobasilar Flow Evaluation and Risk of Transient Ischemic Attack and Stroke (VERiTAS)
Influence of Area of Brain Damage on Brain Reorganization After Chronic Stroke

You can search regularly for updates. To do so visit and use 'Wallenberg' as your search term.

In addition, the following clinical trials have been completed but may still be of interest to you. Further information about these trials can be accessed by clicking on the titles below.

Role of the Right Brain in Recovery of Language Function in Chronic Stroke
Non-Invasive Electrical Stimulation of the Human BrainGenetic Studies to Identify Stroke Subtypes and Outcome
Efficacy and Safety Study of Cilostazol to Prevent Reoccurrence of Stroke

To locate information resulting from the completed studies above e-mail or call the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Customer Service using the information provided below. Include the title of the study, the study ID number, and the NLM Identifier (located at the bottom of the page), and a librarian at NLM can assist you in searching the medical literature for published results on the completed clinical trial.

National Library of Medicine Customer Service
Toll-free: 888-346-3656

If you are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, you can find helpful general information on clinical trials at the following Web page.

A tutorial about clinical trials that can also help answer your questions can be found at the following link from the National Library of Medicine.

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed on the Web site of the Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Last updated: 5/27/2009

How can I find out if there are any clinical trials that I could volunteer for?

You can contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (PRPL)
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
Web site:
Last updated: 5/27/2009

  • NINDS Wallenberg's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). February 15, 2007; Accessed 3/13/2012.
  • Love BB, Biller J. Neurovascular System. In: Goetz CG. Textbook of Clinical Neurology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2007;
  • Qiu W, Wu JS, Carroll WM, Mastaglia FL, Kermode AG. Wallenberg syndrome caused by multiple sclerosis mimicking stroke. J Clin Neurosci. December 2009; 16(12):1700-1702.
  • DB Smith and BK Demasters. Demyelinating disease presenting as Wallenberg's syndrome. Report of a patient. Stroke. 1981; 12:877-888.
  • S.O. Kovacs, K. Kuban, R. Strand. Lateral medullary syndrome following varicella infection. Am J Dis Child. 1993; 147:823-825.
  • M.J. Lawson-Smith, S.J. Smith, J.C. Leach et al. Lateral medullary syndrome caused by penetrating head injury. J Clin Neurosci. 2006; 13:792-794.
  • Verma R, Sharma P. Lateral medullary syndrome due to brain stem tuberculoma. J Assoc Physicians India. June 2011; 59:382-384.
Other Names for this Disease
  • Lateral medullary syndrome
  • Posterior inferior cerebellar artery syndrome
  • PICA syndrome
  • Vertebral artery syndrome
  • Wallenberg's syndrome
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.