Vestibulo-ocular arreflexia in families with spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (Machado-Joseph disease)

Gordon C R; Joffe V; Vainstein G; Gadoth N; Gordon, C R; Joffe, V; Vainstein, G; Gadoth, N
October 2003
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry;Oct2003, Vol. 74 Issue 10, p1403
Academic Journal
journal article
Objective: To identify the presence of vestibulo-ocular arreflexia in patients with Machado-Joseph disease (MJD), which can easily be diagnosed at the bedside.Methods: Seven patients with MJD from five unrelated families and 11 patients with sporadic or hereditary cerebellar ataxia other than MJD underwent a detailed neuro-otological and oculomotor examination. Six MJD and five non-MJD patients also underwent electro-oculographic recordings and caloric tests.Results: Gaze evoked nystagmus, smooth pursuit, and saccade abnormalities were found in both MJD and non-MJD patients. However, in all seven MJD patients but in none of the non-MJD patients, sudden passively induced head thrust to both sides elicited pathological corrective catch-up saccades, indicating bilateral loss of the horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex. This was further confirmed in six MJD patients who had absent vestibular response to both a standard caloric test and ice water ear irrigation. Nystagmus was induced by standard caloric irrigation in all non-MJD patients examined. There was no correlation between the loss of vestibular function and the severity of cerebellar impairment.Conclusions: The presence of vestibulo-ocular arreflexia, as measured by the head thrust test in a patient with dominant cerebellar ataxia, strongly suggests the diagnosis of MJD.


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