Cogan syndrome

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Synonyms and keywords: Oculovestibuloauditory syndrome


Cogan syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by recurrent inflammation of the front of the eye (the cornea) and often fever, fatigue, and weight loss, episodes of dizziness, and hearing loss. It can lead to deafness or blindness if untreated. The classic form of the disease was first described by D.G. Cogan in 1945.

Historical Perspective

In 1945 D.G. Cogan first described the "nonsyphilitic interstitial keratitis and vestibuloauditory symptoms" that would later bear his name (Cogan, 1945). In 1963, the atypical form of Cogan syndrome was first described (Bennett, 1963)




Differentiating Cogan Syndrome from other Diseases

Diseases Clinical manifestations Para-clinical findings Gold standard Additional findings
Symptoms Physical examination
Lab Findings Imaging
Acute onset Recurrency Nystagmus Hearing problems
+ + +/−
Vestibular neuritis
+ +/− + /−


  • + Head thrust test
HSV oticus
+ +/− +/− + VZV antibody titres
Meniere disease
+/− + +/− + (Progressive)
Labyrinthine concussion
+ +
Perilymphatic fistula
+/− + +
  • CT scan may show fluid around the round window recess
Semicircular canal

dehiscence syndrome

+/− + +

(air-bone gaps on audiometry)

Vestibular paroxysmia
+ + +/−

(Induced by hyperventilation)

Cogan syndrome
+ +/− + Increased ESR and cryoglobulins
  • In CT scan we may see calcification or soft tissue attenuation obliterating the intralabyrinthine fluid spaces
Vestibular schwannoma
+ +/− +
Otitis media
+ +/− Increased acute phase reactants
Aminoglycoside toxicity
+ +
Recurrent vestibulopathy
  • It may happen infrequently, every one to two years
  • It may be associated with nausea and vomiting
  • It may overlap with vestibular migraine
Vestibular migrain
+ +/− +/−
  • ICHD-3 criteria
Epileptic vertigo
+ +/−
  • They response well to anti-seizure drugs
Multiple sclerosis
+ +/− Elevated concentration of CSF oligoclonal bands
  • MS is at least two times more common among women than men
  • The onset of symptoms is mostly between the age of fifteen to forty years, rarely before age fifteen or after age sixty
Brain tumors
+/− + + + Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) may show cancerous cells
  • On CT scan most of the brain tumors appears as a hypodense mass lesions
  • On MRI most of the brain tumors appears as a hypointense or isointense on T1-weighted scans, or hyperintense on T2-weighted MRI.
Cerebellar infarction/hemorrhage + ++/−
  • Based on the time interval between stroke and imaging we may have different presentations
Brain stem ischemia + +/−
  • Based on the time interval between stroke and imaging we may have different presentations
  • For more information click here
Chiari malformation
+ +
  • Patient may experience ringing in the ears


VZV= Varicella zoster virus, MRI= Magnetic resonance imaging, ESR= Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, EEG= Electroencephalogram, CSF= Cerebrospinal fluid, GPe= Globus pallidus externa, ICHD= International Classification of Headache Disorders

Epidemiology and Demographics

Risk Factors

Natural History, Complications and Prognosis


Diagnostic Criteria


Physical Examination

Laboratory Findings

Imaging Findings

Other Diagnostic Studies


Medical Therapy



Related disorders


  1. Lee SH, Kim JS (June 2010). "Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo". J Clin Neurol. 6 (2): 51–63. doi:10.3988/jcn.2010.6.2.51. PMC 2895225. PMID 20607044.
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  • Cogan DG (1945). "Syndrome of nonsyphilitic interstitial keratitis and vestiboloauditory symptoms". Arch Ophthalmol. 33: 144–9.
  • Bennett FM (1963). "Bilateral recurrent episcleritis associated with posterior corneal changes, vestibulo-auditory symptoms and rheumatoid arthritis". Am J Ophthalmol. 55: 815–8. PMID 13967466