Image Diagnosis: Numb Chin Syndrome

Kaiser Permanente, The Permanente Medical Group, The Permanente Federation


Rabih Geha, MD; Trevor Jensen, MD

Perm J 2017;21:16-154 [Full Citation]
E-pub: 04/03/2017

Case Presentation

A 58-year-old woman with a history of stage III lung adenocarcinoma presented to the Emergency Department with complaints of persistent chin numbness. She had good dentition, no oral lesions, and reduced sensation to light touch over the right side of her chin, but no other neurologic deficits. A noncontrast head computed tomography scan revealed several lytic lesions at the skull base (Figure 1). A subsequent brain magnetic resonance imaging scan showed diffuse dural thickening (Figure 2), which was concerning for leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. These findings were consistent with Numb Chin Syndrome. Our patient elected against further treatment and was discharged home with hospice.

Kaiser Permanente, The Permanente Medical Group, The Permanente Federation


First reported in 1954, Numb Chin Syndrome is a sensory neuropathy of the mental nerve characterized by paresthesias and/or numbness of the chin.1,2 Malignancy is the most common etiology after primary dental pathology.3 Numb Chin Syndrome often heralds relapse or progression of known disease and is rarely the index presentation of malignancy.1 Lymphoma and breast cancer are the most commonly implicated tumors, followed by leukemia, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.4 Invasion of the mandible, leading to local nerve compression, frequently accounts for the observed symptoms. As with our patient, skull base and leptomeningeal disease are other established mechanisms, making brain imaging imperative in these patients.

Disclosure Statement

The author(s) have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


Kathleen Louden, ELS, of Louden Health Communications provided editorial assistance.

How to Cite this Article

Geha R, Jensen T. Image diagnosis: Numb chin syndrome. Perm J 2017;21:16-154. DOI:

1.    Bruyn RP, Boogerd W. Numb chin syndrome. Neurology 1993 May;43(5):1058.
2.    Furukawa T. Charles Bell’s description of numb chin syndrome. Neurology 1988 Feb;38(2):331. DOI:
3.    Baskaran RK, Krishnamoorthy, Smith M. Numb chin syndrome—a reflection of systemic malignancy. World J Surg Oncol 2006 Aug 9;4:52. DOI:
4.    Laurencet FM, Anchisi S, Tullen E, Dietrich PY. Mental neuropathy: Report of five cases and review of the literature. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2000 Apr;34(1):71-9.



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