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Reminder of important clinical lesson
Recurrent syncope and chronic ear pain
  1. Andrew Clegg1,
  2. Luis Daverede2,
  3. Winson Wong3,
  4. Elizabeth Loney4,
  5. John Young1
  1. 1Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford, UK
  2. 2Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield, UK
  3. 3Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Barnsley, UK
  4. 4Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Clegg, andrewpaulclegg{at}


An elderly gentleman presented to hospital with recurrent blackout episodes consistent with syncope and a 3-month history of right ear pain. Significant postural hypotension was recorded. White cell count and C reactive protein were elevated. MRI of the head and neck revealed a soft tissue abnormality in the right nasopharynx and base of skull. Tissue biopsies were obtained and microbiology specimens revealed a mixed growth of pseudomonas and diphtheroids. There was no histological evidence of malignancy.

A diagnosis of skull base infection was made. Infective involvement of the carotid sinus was considered to be the cause of the recurrent syncope and postural hypotension.

The patient responded well to a 12-week course of intravenous meropenem. Inflammatory markers returned to normal and a repeat MRI after 3 months of treatment showed significant resolution of infection. The syncopal episodes and orthostatic hypotension resolved in parallel with treatment of infection.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.