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Musical hallucination following whiplash injury: case report and literature review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 April 2012

Y M Bhatt*
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Royal Preston Hospital, UK
J P de Carpentier
Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Royal Preston Hospital, UK
Address for correspondence: Mr Y M Bhatt, Specialist Registrar in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Royal Preston Hospital, Fulwood, Preston PR2 9HT, UK E-mail:



A musical hallucination is defined as a form of auditory hallucination characterised by the perception of music in the absence of external acoustic stimuli. It is infrequently cited in the literature, although population studies suggest a greater prevalence. The aetiology of this unusual disorder remains unclear.

Case report:

A 70-year-old man with acquired hearing loss suffered a whiplash injury in a low-speed road traffic accident, and subsequently presented with bilateral ‘tinnitus.’ On closer questioning, he described hearing orchestral music. There was no evidence of psychosis, delirium or intoxication, and the patient was managed expectantly.


This patient represents the first published case of musical hallucination precipitated by whiplash injury. We explore the possible pathophysiological underpinnings of musical hallucination and highlight the need for a greater awareness of this disorder. A management strategy is suggested.

Clinical Records
Copyright © JLO (1984) Limited 2012

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