Styloid Process and Eagle’s Syndrome

Gray907The Styloid Process is a pointed piece of bone that extends down from the skull, just below the ear. It serves as an anchor point for ligaments and muscles associated with the tongue and larynx.

The stylohyoid ligament, stylomandibular ligament, styloglossus muscle, stylohyoid muscle and stylopharyngeus muscle are attached to the styloid process.  (3 muscles innervated by 3 cranial nerves attach to the styloid process—–stylohyoid – C.N. VII, stylopharyngeus – C.N. IX, and styloglossus – C.N. XII)

imagesA small percentage of the population suffers from a condition called Eagle Syndrome which causes an elongation of the styloid process and stylohyoid ligament calcification. When someone with Eagle Syndrome swallows, the tissue of the throat rubs against the styloid process, resulting in glossopharyngeal nerve pain. Eagle Syndrome was first described by Watt Weems Eagle, an otorhinolaryngologist, in 1937.