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Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome (MRS)

What is Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS)?

Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS) is a rare neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent facial paralysis, coupled with a swelling of the face and lips and the development of folds and furrows in the tongue. After recurrent attacks, that can last from days to years in between, the facial swelling in MRS can become permanent.

What causes Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS)?

The cause of MRS is currently unknown, but scientists speculate that there may be a genetic predisposition to the condition, or that it may be symptomatic of Crohn’s disease or sarcoidosis. Dietary and/or other allergens may also be involved in the onset of MRS.

What are the symptoms of Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS)?

The first symptom of MRS is usually a swelling of the upper lip, lower lip, one or both cheeks, eyelids, or one side of the scalp. This swelling may subside within a few hours or days, but in subsequent flare ups of MRS, the swelling may be more severe and last longer, even becoming permanent in severe cases. Sometimes, facial palsy occurs in individuals after an episode; it may resolve initially and then become permanent later on. Other characteristics of MRS episodes include the following:
  • Cracked and discolored lips
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Visual disturbances
  • Reduced salivary gland secretion
  • Diminished sense of taste
The onset of MRS symptoms is usually in childhood or early adolescence.

How is Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS) diagnosed?

MRS is diagnosed after a thorough clinical evaluation with an observation of the hallmark features of the condition and a detailed patient and family history review. Specialized laboratory testing can confirm a diagnosis by ruling out Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis or by biopsing the lips.

What are the available treatments for Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS)?

Most of the signs and symptoms of MRS eventually resolve without treatment. However, because episodes may gradually increase in severity, corticosteroid injections, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and antibiotics can all be used to prevent episodes in the future. Surgery and/or radiation can also be used after-the-fact to reduce abnormally swollen lips.

Where can I find more information on Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS)?

Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome (MRS) Articles

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