Close
New

Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.

 

Abducens Nerve Palsy Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Michael P Ehrenhaus, MD; Chief Editor: Edsel Ing, MD, FRCSC  more...
 
Updated: May 17, 2016
 

History

Clinical history includes the following:

  • Esotropia
  • Head-turn
  • Binocular diplopia (worse at distance)
  • Vision loss
  • Pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Symptoms of vasculitis, particularly giant cell arteritis
  • Trauma
Next

Physical

Physical findings include the following:

  • An esodeviation that increases on ipsilateral gaze and is often greater at a distance; prism measurements in different positions of gaze can reveal the magnitude of misalignment and its incomitance (asymmetry)
  • An isolated abduction deficit
  • Slowed ipsilateral saccades
  • Papilledema (if increased intracranial pressure)
  • Altered sensation in the V1 or V2 distribution with cavernous sinus lesions
  • Nystagmus (usually in children, ie, secondary to pontine glioma)
  • Otitis media
  • Petrous bone fracture
  • Horner syndrome (Foville brainstem syndrome, carotid oculosympathetic plexus involvement in cavernous sinus)
  • Tender, enlarged, nonpulsatile temporal arteries in giant cell arteritis
Previous
Next

Causes

Not all abduction deficits are cranial nerve VI palsies. Mimickers are orbital lesions, medial wall fractures, Duane syndrome, thyroid disease, myasthenia gravis, and spasm of the near reflex.[4]

  • Elevated intracranial pressure can result in downward displacement of the brainstem, causing stretching of the sixth nerve secondary to its anatomic location within the Dorello canal. This is believed to be the reason that about 30% of patients with pseudotumor cerebri have an isolated abducens nerve palsy.
  • Subarachnoid space lesions can be causes of abducens nerve palsy (eg, hemorrhage, infection, inflammation, space-occupying tumor, cavernous sinus mass). Inflammatory (eg, postviral, demyelinating, sarcoid, giant cell arteritis)
  • Vascular
  • Metabolic (eg, vitamin B, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
  • Neoplasm (children) - Pontine glioma
  • Infectious (eg, Lyme disease, syphilis)
  • Congenital absence of the sixth nerve (eg, Duane syndrome)[5]
  • Trauma, particularly if it results in a torsional head motion[6, 7, 8, 9]
  • Post–lumbar tap[10]
Previous
 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Michael P Ehrenhaus, MD Director, Department of Cornea, External Disease & Refractive Surgery, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center

Michael P Ehrenhaus, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Mohammedyusuf E Hajee, MD Clinical Instructor, Staff Physician, Department of Ophthalmology, Director, Blood Flow Laboratory, State University of New York-Downstate Medical Center

Mohammedyusuf E Hajee, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, National Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD Clinical Professor of Health Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine

Simon K Law, MD, PharmD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, American Glaucoma Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Edsel Ing, MD, FRCSC Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Hospital for Sick Children and Sunnybrook Hospital

Edsel Ing, MD, FRCSC is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Canadian Ophthalmological Society, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, Canadian Society of Oculoplastic Surgery, European Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Canadian Medical Association, Ontario Medical Association, Statistical Society of Canada, Chinese Canadian Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Andrew W Lawton, MD Neuro-Ophthalmology, Ochsner Health Services

Andrew W Lawton, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, Arkansas Medical Society, Southern Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Hampton Roy, Sr, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Ophthalmology, American College of Surgeons, Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Brian R Younge, MD Professor of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

Brian R Younge, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, American Ophthalmological Society, and North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgments

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ryan I Huffman, MD, with the literature review and referencing for this article.

References
  1. Evans NM. Ophthalmology. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press Inc; 1995.

  2. Kline LB. Neuro-ophthalmology Review Manual. 6th ed. SLACK Inc; 2008.

  3. Yanoff M, Duker JS. Ophthalmology. Mosby International Ltd; 1999.

  4. Ayberk G, Ozveren MF, Yildirim T, et al. Review of a series with abducens nerve palsy. Turk Neurosurg. 2008 Oct. 18(4):366-73. [Medline].

  5. Denis D, Dauletbekov D, Girard N. Duane retraction syndrome: Type II with severe abducens nerve hypoplasia on magnetic resonance imaging. J AAPOS. 2008 Feb. 12(1):91-3. [Medline].

  6. Calisaneller T, Ozdemir O, Altinors N. Posttraumatic acute bilateral abducens nerve palsy in a child. Childs Nerv Syst. 2006 Jul. 22(7):726-8. [Medline].

  7. Dwarakanath S, Gopal S, Venkataramana NK. Post-traumatic bilateral abducens nerve palsy. Neurol India. 2006 Jun. 54(2):221-2. [Medline].

  8. Kurbanyan K, Lessell S. Intracranial hypotension and abducens palsy following upper spinal manipulation. Br J Ophthalmol. 2008 Jan. 92(1):153-5. [Medline].

  9. Hanu-Cernat LM, Hall T. Late onset of abducens palsy after Le Fort I maxillary osteotomy. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2008 Dec 16. [Medline].

  10. Anwar S, Nalla S, Fernando DJ. Abducens nerve palsy as a complication of lumbar puncture. Eur J Intern Med. 2008 Dec. 19(8):636-7. [Medline].

  11. Tsai TH, Demer JL. Nonaneurysmal cranial nerve compression as cause of neuropathic strabismus: evidence from high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. Am J Ophthalmol. 2011 Dec. 152(6):1067-1073.e2. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  12. Rhee DJ, Pyfer MF. The Wills Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1999.

Previous
Next
 
 
 
 
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.