Authors: Rimal Hanif Dossani, MD; Rimal Dossani, MD; Anan Rmilah, MD; Brian Willis, MD (Shreveport, LA)

Introduction:

Watt Weems Eagle (1898-1980) was an American otolaryngologist who first described Eagle syndrome, a rare clinical entity that presents with a triad of dysphagia, cervical pain, and foreign-body sensation in the throat. The aim of this study is to present a historical vignette on Eagle's life and on the syndrome that became eponymous with his name.

Methods:

We performed interviews of Eagle's colleagues to obtain biographical information. We then performed a literature search on PubMed Central to identify all historical manuscripts authored by Dr. Eagle. 

Results:

Watt Weems Eagle was born in Statesville, North Carolina, in 1898. He obtained his medical degree and completed a residency in otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins. At Duke, Eagle served as the first chief of the ENT division from 1930-1949. In several publications published in the late 1930s, Eagle was the first to systematically describe the clinical syndrome and surgical treatment for elongated styloid processes, and this syndrome has since been associated with his name. The classical form presents with persistent unilateral pharyngeal pain worsened by swallowing. The vascular form, which is of interest to neurosurgeons, is characterized by compression of the internal carotid artery by an elongated styloid process.

Conclusion:

Watt Eagle was an outstanding American surgeon and otolaryngologist who spent the majority of his career at Duke Medical Center. He is known for defining Eagle syndrome, a rare clinical entity with a constellation of neuropathic and vaso-occlusive symptomatology caused by abnormal elongation or angulation of the styloid process.