JOURNAL ARTICLE

Acute lumbosacral polyradiculopathy in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: experience in 23 patients

Y T So, R K Olney
Annals of Neurology 1994, 35 (1): 53-8
8285593
We reviewed our experience in 23 patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) who had acute lumbosacral polyradiculopathy. The patients developed a distinctive syndrome of rapidly progressive flaccid paraparesis and areflexia that was frequently associated with sphincter disturbances. Persuasive laboratory evidence of a cytomegalovirus polyradiculopathy (polymorphonuclear pleocytosis or confirmatory cerebrospinal fluid culture) was found in 15 of the 23 patients. Treatment with ganciclovir in these patients led to clinical stabilization, although worsening during the first 2 weeks of treatment was common. Most patients with cytomegalovirus polyradiculopathy had severe residual deficits. Metastasis from systemic lymphoma accounted for the polyradiculopathy in 2 other patients. A more benign syndrome was identified in the remaining 6 patients. They generally had slower clinical progression and less severe neurological deficits at their nadir than did patients with cytomegalovirus polyradiculopathy. Unlike patients with cytomegalovirus infection, their cerebrospinal fluid showed a predominantly mononuclear pleocytosis. Moreover, spontaneous improvement without treatment was common. Our experience together with the published experience of others suggests that the acute lumbosacral polyradiculopathy in AIDS is a clinical syndrome with different etiologies and variable clinical outcome. Recognition of this heterogeneity is necessary for the management of individual patients, as well as the interpretation of treatment results.

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