Background: Eponym lists in major sources can give an aura of legitimacy to discredited diagnoses, as exemplified by the case of Barré–Lieou syndrome, a ‘rare’ vestibular disorder.
Methods: A literature review for information on the posterior cervical syndrome of Barré–Lieou.
Results: Barré–Lieou syndrome includes very common symptoms – tinnitus, dizziness, and head or neck pain – attributed to ischaemia caused by cervical sympathetic nerve compression. Its original description brings together many unrelated disorders, and its causative mechanism has been discredited. However, it appears credulously in a number of eponym lists, and references to the syndrome are steadily increasing on the internet in general and on alternative medicine and legal profession websites in particular.
Conclusion: By inclusion in eponym lists, without a disclaimer, a syndrome can be given legitimacy before the general public. A syndrome, such as Barré–Lieou syndrome, that is useless to the medical profession can unfortunately prove to be very useful for litigants and disability claimants.
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