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Tolosa-Hunt Syndrome Workup

  • Author: Danette C Taylor, MS, DO, FACN; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
 
Updated: Sep 04, 2015
 

Laboratory Studies

The diagnosis of Tolosa-Hunt syndrome is usually one of exclusion.

CBC count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), electrolytes with glucose, thyroid function tests, fluorescent treponemal antibody (FTA), antinuclear antibody (ANA), lupus erythematosus (LE) preparation, antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA), serum protein electrophoresis, Lyme titre, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) level, and HIV titre are helpful in eliminating other processes. This level of evaluation is required to exclude other conditions, which can have significant morbidity associated.

Cell count and differential, protein, glucose, fungal and/or bacterial cultures, Gram stain, cytology, and opening pressure of CSF are helpful in eliminating conditions mimicking Tolosa-Hunt syndrome; a mild (lymphocytic) pleocytosis within the spinal fluid may occur in patients with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome.

Anti-GQ1b antibodies may be helpful in distinguishing early, painless Tolosa-Hunt syndrome from Miller Fisher syndrome.

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Imaging Studies

MRI[6] of the brain and orbit with and without contrast, magnetic resonance (MR) angiography or digital subtraction angiography (DSA), and CT scan of the brain and orbit with and without contrast may all be useful (see the images below). Inflammatory changes in the cavernous sinus, superior orbital fissure, and/or orbital apex are typically observed on high-resolution contrast-enhanced imaging. In the authors' experience, thin-slice high–magnetic field MRI of the cavernous sinus region, including coronal sections with and without contrast and fat-suppressed cuts of the orbital regions, is the modality of choice. These changes are not specific for Tolosa-Hunt syndrome and may also be present in neoplastic conditions of the cavernous sinus. Enlargement of the optic nerve or external ocular muscles has been described, emphasizing the continuum with idiopathic orbital inflammatory disorders.

Note that findings on all imaging studies may be normal in some cases of Tolosa-Hunt syndrome.

Narrowing of the internal carotid artery within the cavernous sinus may be identified on angiography. Note that these changes are not specific to Tolosa-Hunt syndrome.

MRI with 3-dimensional constructive interference in steady state (3D CISS) provides an enhanced picture within the cavernous sinus. This type of imaging may assist with future diagnoses of TSH, but it is not yet used routinely.[7]

MRI of a 40-year-old man with severe periorbital p MRI of a 40-year-old man with severe periorbital pain ocular sinister (OS; ie, left eye), complete oculomotor nerve palsy OS, and partial abducens nerve palsy OS. Axial imaging without (left) and with (right) enhancement demonstrates nonspecific fullness involving the left cavernous sinus, consistent with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome within the context of the history. Treatment with steroids produced complete resolution of symptoms. Image courtesy of Eric Eggenberger, DO.
Coronal T1-weighted MRI with (below) and without ( Coronal T1-weighted MRI with (below) and without (above) enhancement demonstrates left cavernous sinus fullness consistent with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (THS). The imaging features are nonspecific and must be placed into the context of the history, examination, and clinical course to avoid misdiagnosis of infiltrating, infectious, or neoplastic cavernous sinus processes. Image courtesy of Eric Eggenberger, DO.
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Procedures

Biopsy of the lesion may be required to confirm the diagnosis. The technical difficulty of cavernous sinus region biopsies usually mitigates for a trial of steroids; nonetheless, biopsy may be needed to exclude neoplasm or if symptoms are progressing, atypical, or recurrent.

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Histologic Findings

Biopsy reveals nonspecific granulomatous or nongranulomatous inflammation. This is histologically indistinguishable from the pathology of orbital pseudotumor, and these diseases may exist along a continuum.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Danette C Taylor, MS, DO, FACN Medical Director, Movement Disorders Program, Beaumont Health; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Danette C Taylor, MS, DO, FACN is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Osteopathic Association, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists, American Medical Association

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Allergan for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Teva Pharmaceuticals for speaking and teaching.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Florian P Thomas, MD, PhD, Drmed, MA, MS Director, National MS Society Multiple Sclerosis Center; Professor and Director, Clinical Research Unit, Department of Neurology, Adjunct Professor of Physical Therapy, Associate Professor, Institute for Molecular Virology, St Louis University School of Medicine; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine

Florian P Thomas, MD, PhD, Drmed, MA, MS is a member of the following medical societies: Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals, American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS Professor Emeritus of Neurology and Psychiatry, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Clinical Professor of Family Medicine, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, State University of New York Upstate Medical University; Neuroscience Director, Department of Neurology, Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital

Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of International Physicians, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pain Medicine, American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, National Association of Managed Care Physicians, American College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal Society of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Eric R Eggenberger, MS, DO, FAAN Professor, Vice-Chairman, Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology, Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Human Medicine, Michigan State University; Director of Michigan State University Ocular Motility Laboratory; Director of National Multiple Sclerosis Society Clinic, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Eric R Eggenberger, MS, DO, FAAN is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Osteopathic Association, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Biogen; Genzyme; Novartis; Teva <br/>Received research grant from: Biogen; Genzyme; Novartis<br/>Received consulting fee from Biogen for consulting; Received consulting fee from Teva for consulting; Received consulting fee from Acorda for consulting; Received grant/research funds from Novartis for independent contractor; Received honoraria from Genentech for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Genzyme for speaking and teaching.

Acknowledgements

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author Kenneth A Mankowski, DO to the development and writing of this article.

References
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MRI of a 40-year-old man with severe periorbital pain ocular sinister (OS; ie, left eye), complete oculomotor nerve palsy OS, and partial abducens nerve palsy OS. Axial imaging without (left) and with (right) enhancement demonstrates nonspecific fullness involving the left cavernous sinus, consistent with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome within the context of the history. Treatment with steroids produced complete resolution of symptoms. Image courtesy of Eric Eggenberger, DO.
Coronal T1-weighted MRI with (below) and without (above) enhancement demonstrates left cavernous sinus fullness consistent with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (THS). The imaging features are nonspecific and must be placed into the context of the history, examination, and clinical course to avoid misdiagnosis of infiltrating, infectious, or neoplastic cavernous sinus processes. Image courtesy of Eric Eggenberger, DO.
 
 
 
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