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November 1991

Protracted Lhermitte's Sign Following Head and Neck Irradiation

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Radiation Oncology (Dr Thornton), Neurology (Dr Greenberg), and Otolaryngology (Dr Sullivan), University of Michigan Hospitals; and University of Michigan Medical School (Mr Zimberg), Ann Arbor.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(11):1300-1303. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870230116020

• Lhermitte's sign is a rare complication of head and neck irradiation involving the delivery of dose to the cervical spinal cord. Although uncommon, symptoms of lightning-like electric sensations spreading into both arms, down the dorsal spine, and into both legs on neck flexion following head and neck irradiation, causes great concern in both the patient and the physician. This spontaneously reversible phenomenon is important for the otolaryngologist and radiation oncologist to recognize and discuss. A particularly severe and protracted case of Lhermitte's sign involving a patient recently completing a radical course of radiation for nasopharyngeal carcinoma is described in detail, including a review of the literature surrounding the cause and management of this condition.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117:1300-1303)

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