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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 129-144

Neurosyphilis-associated movement disorder: A literature review

Medicine Department, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jamir Pitton Rissardo
Rua Roraima, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AOMD.AOMD_21_20

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Syphilis is a well-known “great simulator/mimicker” of other diseases. Over the last decades, the clinical features of neurosyphilis have changed with an increasing percentage of atypical manifestations. In this context, movement disorders caused by neurosyphilis are rare and challenging to diagnose. This literature review aimed to evaluate the clinical epidemiological profile, pathological mechanisms, and historical features of neurosyphilis-associated movement disorders. Relevant reports in six databases were identified and assessed by two reviewers without language restriction. A total of 84 reports containing 168 cases who developed a movement disorder related to neurosyphilis were reported. The mean and the median reported ages were 40.50 (standard deviation [SD], 20.30) and 43 years (2.5–72.5 years). The predominant sex was male (79.16%). Argyll Robertson pupils were found in 54.90% of the individuals. The movement disorders reported were tremor, chorea, parkinsonism, ataxia, myoclonus, dystonia, athetosis, and ballism. In the literature, we have a large number of reports about movement disorder associated with neurosyphilis. But, in the majority of them, the individuals had the syphilitic diagnosis based on unspecific methods, electrodiagnostic studies were not performed, or penicillin therapy was unavailable. Also, we believe that any patient presenting with a movement disorder should have a thorough neurological examination of pupillary reflex, and if any abnormality is present, syphilitic laboratorial tests should be done.

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