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A triad of retro-ocular pain, discharging ear and abducens nerve palsy, as described by Gradenigo, has been recognized for 150 years. It has traditionally been treated with surgery, but recent advances in imaging, allied with improved antibiotic treatment, allow conservative management of these cases. We present two cases of Gradenigo's syndrome: a 6-year-old child and a 70-year-old man, both without cholesteatoma, who were managed without mastoidectomy. They both had full recovery of abducens nerve function, although this took 6 and 12 weeks, respectively. In order to manage patients with Gradenigo's syndrome safely, accurate diagnostic radiology is essential, and our findings are presented and discussed. With changing medical technology, a review of the diagnostic and treatment options for this rare but serious condition, is timely.

Original publication




Journal article


J Laryngol Otol

Publication Date





325 - 329


Abducens Nerve Diseases, Aged, Child, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Mastoiditis, Otitis Media, Suppurative, Petrous Bone, Syndrome