Selected Topics: Neurological Emergencies| Volume 48, ISSUE 1, P58-62, January 2015

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Eye on Children: Acute Work-up for Pediatric Horner's Syndrome. Case Presentation and Review of the Literature

Published:September 30, 2014DOI:



      Ptosis and anisocoria in a child may be subtle indications of occult pathology, and making the observation acutely in the emergency department (ED) is important in guiding patient management and treatment. Emergency physicians must evaluate patients to exclude serious or life-threatening emergencies and ensure correct disposition of patients. Horner syndrome in children may be considered congenital or acquired and may be from benign or malignant causes. When an isolated, acquired Horner syndrome is suspected in a pediatric patient, physical examination of the neck and abdomen for masses, as well as spot urine catecholamines, vanillylmandelic acid and homovanillic acid, and varying degrees of imaging are recommended as part of the initial evaluation. These evaluations may be performed in the ED or may require hospitalization, depending on the suspected anatomical localization and diagnostic considerations.

      Case Report

      A 21-month-old, normally developed girl presented to the University Hospital ED with a 2-h history of right-sided eyelid drooping in the setting of a febrile illness. An eventual diagnosis of Horner syndrome from cervical lymph node compression was made on the basis of history, examination, and imaging findings.

      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

      ED evaluations of pediatric patients differ from adults. Evaluation and work-up of Horner syndrome in children can be challenging and can require varying degrees of assessment and evaluation, depending on the diagnostic considerations. This article will address the common pathologies responsible for isolated pediatric Horner syndrome and the recommended ED evaluation.


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