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A blessing in disguise: Resolution of tardive dyskinesia with development of cervical myelitis



Tardive dyskinesia (TD), which is frequently seen in patients treated with dopamine receptor blocking agents, is difficult to manage. We report on a young Chinese man with bipolar disorder who developed TD after haloperidol treatment, involving the trunk, limbs, and orofacial area. TD persisted despite switching to atypical antipsychotic agents and treatment with valproate, benzodiazepines, and tetrabenazine. Resolution only occurred years later when he developed quadriplegia arising from infective myelitis of the cervical cord (C4–5). He had concomitant vertebral osteomyelitis, which was successfully treated with intravenous antibiotics. With intensive rehabilitation, he recovered the use of his limbs, but had no recurrence of TD. We attribute the resolution of orofacial dyskinesias with a cervical lesion to the interconnections between the orofacial area and cervical spine via the trigeminal nucleus (which has fibers descending as far caudally as C6), as well as to resetting of cortical maps. © 2005 Movement Disorder Society