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Acute Cranial Neuropathies Heralding Neurosyphilis in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patient

Saeed Alqahtani

(Department of Neurology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2014; 15:411-415

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.892292


Background: Symptomatic early neurosyphilis with isolated acute multiple cranial nerves palsy as initial manifestation of HIV infection is very rare. It is caused by direct invasion of the central nervous system by the spirochete Treponema pallidum.
Case Report: A 31-year-old African-American homosexual man presented with bilateral hearing loss, constant vertigo, intermittent horizontal diplopia, and bilateral facial droop, which was associated with occipital headache without fever. Neurological examination revealed bilateral vestibulocochlear and facial nerve palsy. On brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before and after administration of gadolinium, he was found to have extensive isolated basilar meningeal enhancement involving the midbrain, pons along the seven and eight nerves complex bilaterally, consistent with basal meningoencephalitis.
Conclusions: Neurosyphilis can present as initial manifestation of HIV infection with early involvement of basal meninges and cranial nerves. It is important to understand that neurosyphilis is still a significant disease with complex neurological presentation. Early diagnosis and treatment of neurosyphilis is crucial due to potential persistent disabilities that can be easily treated or even prevented.

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