Markedly severe dystonia in Japanese encephalitis

Authors

  • J. Kalita DM,

    1. Department of Neurology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India
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  • U. K. Misra DM, FAMS

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India
    • Department of Neurology, Sanjay Gandhi PGIMS, LKO, India
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Abstract

Encephalitis has been reported to be a rare cause of severe dystonia. We describe five patients with markedly severe dystonia from Japanese encephalitis. These patients with markedly severe dystonia were seen during the past 8 years as a subgroup of 50 patients with Japanese encephalitis. The diagnosis of markedly severe dystonia was based on increasingly frequent episodes of generalized dystonia with bulbar, respiratory, or metabolic derangement or leading to exhaustion or pain. The diagnosis of JE was based on clinicoradiologic features and a fourfold increase of hemagglutination-inhibiting antibody titers in paired serum. The outcome of the patients was defined as a good, partial, or poor recovery on the basis of 1-year clinical status. All the patients were males, and their ages ranged from 6 to 19 years. Movement disorders appeared 1 to 3 weeks after the illness as the level of consciousness started improving. During the next 1 to 4 weeks, patients began to experience markedly severe dystonia. It was associated with marked axial dystonia resulting in opisthotonus and retrocollis in five patients, jaw-opening dystonia in two patients, teeth clenching in one patient, and oculogyric crisis and neck deviation in another patient. The attacks of markedly severe dystonia lasted for 2 to 30 minutes and occurred as many as 20 to 30 times daily. Other developments included fixed limb dystonia in one patient, severe spasticity and rigidity in five patients, and focal muscle wasting in one patient. These patients had only a modest improvement after treatment. Markedly severe dystonia abated by 2 to 6 months in all the patients who were followed up. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging showed bilateral thalamic involvement in all patients, brainstem involvement in three patients, and basal ganglia involvement in two patients. At the 3-month follow-up, all patients had a poor outcome. At 1 year, one patient had a complete recovery; one had a partial recovery; and two were bedridden. It can be concluded that markedly severe dystonia is an important and serious sequela of Japanese encephalitis and may occur as the result of thalamus, midbrain, or basal ganglia involvement in various combinations.

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