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JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Barré-Lieou syndrome and the problem of the obsolete eponym

C A Foster, P Jabbour
Journal of Laryngology and Otology 2007, 121 (7): 680-3
17052362

BACKGROUND: 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.

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

RESULTS: 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.

CONCLUSION: 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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