To describe a previously unreported syndrome of recurrent syncopal attacks provoked by light stimulation of the external auditory canal.
A 13-year-old girl had been receiving treatment for presumed absence seizures, with inadequate treatment response. Imaging was normal. Careful history taking indicated that the recurrent syncopal attacks were precipitated by external auditory canal stimulation. Targeted autonomic function tests confirmed a hyperactive vagal response, with documented significant bradycardia and lightheadedness, provoked by mild stimulation of the posterior wall of the left external auditory canal. Abstinence from ear scratching led to complete alleviation of symptoms without any pharmacological treatment.
Reflex syncope consequent to stimulation of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve is proposed as the pathophysiological mechanism for this previously undocumented syndrome.
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