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Stroke. 2008 Jan;39(1):62-8. Epub 2007 Nov 29.

Evolution of neurological, neuropsychological and sleep-wake disturbances after paramedian thalamic stroke.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 26, CH-8091 Z├╝rich, Switzerland.



The clinical features and natural course of paramedian thalamic stroke is poorly known. The aim of this study was to characterize the evolution of neurological, neuropsychological, and sleep-wake deficits after paramedian thalamic stroke.


Forty-six consecutive patients, aged 48.4+/-16.6 years, were studied. Fourteen had bilateral, 16 left-sided, and 16 right-sided lesions. Assessment included neurological examinations, estimation of sleep needs, formal neuropsychological tests (n=27), and polysomnographies (n=31). Functional outcome was followed up over 1 year in 31 patients with the modified Rankin Scale and Barthel index.


Oculomotor palsy (76% of patients), mild gait ataxia (67%), deficits of attention (63%), fluency and error control (59%), learning and memory (67%), and behavior (67%) were common in the acute stroke phase. Outcome was excellent with right-sided infarcts but mostly incomplete with bilateral and left-sided lesions. This was mainly related to persistent frontal lobe-related and cognitive deficits found in 100% bilateral and 90% left-sided, but only 33% right-sided strokes. Initially, hypersomnia was present in all patients associated with increased stage 1 sleep, reduced stage 2 sleep, and reduced sleep spindles. Sleep needs improved in patients with bilateral and almost disappeared with unilateral lesions after 1 year. Sleep architecture remained abnormal with the exception of sleep spindles that increased.


Whereas neurological deficits and hypersomnia recover to large extent in patients with paramedian thalamic stroke, the frontal lobe-related and cognitive deficits, which are mainly linked with bilateral and left-sided lesions, often persist. As such, stroke outcome is better in right-sided than bilateral or left-sided infarcts.

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