Professional Reference articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.
Synonyms: Kennedy's phenomenon; Gowers-Paton-Kennedy syndrome
Foster Kennedy's syndrome (FKS) is a rare neurological sign first described in 1911 by Robert Foster Kennedy.[1, 2] He was a British neurologist, who spent the majority of his working life in America (1884-1952). It consists of:
- Unilateral, ipsilateral optic atrophy, produced by direct pressure on the optic nerve.
- Contralateral papilloedema secondary to raised intracranial pressure (ICP).
- Central scotoma.
Pseudo-FKS has also been described, in which there is unilateral optic disc swelling with contralateral optic atrophy in the absence of an intracranial mass.This occurs typically due to bilateral sequential optic neuritis or ischaemic optic neuropathy. A case secondary to pachymeningitis (inflammation of the dura mater) has also been reported.
It is most commonly caused by a tumour on the inferior surface of the frontal lobe. This is usually an olfactory groove meningioma or a medial third sphenoidal wing meningioma.
It has also been reported as a consequence of:
- A metastatic cerebral tumour.
- Arteriovenous malformation, in which chronic venous hypertension was the likely aetiology.
- Juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma (a rare benign tumour of the nasopharynx that occurs in adolescent boys with epistaxis and nasal obstruction).
A review of the 36 previously reported cases of FKS revealed that only eight (22%) of the cases satisfied Foster Kennedy's original hypothesis for the pathogenesis of his syndrome. 12 cases (33%) were probably caused by bilateral optic nerve compression. The authors conclude that as more sophisticated imaging permits earlier and more precise diagnosis, future cases of FKS caused by a mass will probably be found to result from bilateral direct optic nerve compression.
- Memory loss.
- Emotional lability, ie other frontal lobe signs.
Management and prognosis
Both depend on the underlying cause.
Did you find this information useful?
Further reading & references
- Yeh WY, Cheng CK, Peng PH, et al; Foster Kennedy Syndrome in a Case with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging. 2010 Mar 9:1-3. doi:
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.