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High Alt Med Biol. 2004 Spring;5(1):71-5.

Transient high altitude neurological dysfunction: an origin in the temporoparietal cortex.

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


This case report describes three separate episodes of isolated ataxia, hallucinations of being accompanied by another person, and bilateral dressing apraxia occurring in a single individual without prior warning signs. These symptoms are attributable to disruption of vestibular processing in the temporoparietal cortex or associated limbic structures. Neurological dysfunction at high altitude is usually ascribed to high altitude cerebral edema or acute mountain sickness. However, transient neurological symptoms occur abruptly at more extreme altitudes, often following vigorous exertion, without overt altitude-induced prodromes. These symptoms may be caused by intense neuronal discharge or neuronal synchronization as a feature of epileptic discharges or cortical spreading depression. Transient high altitude neurological dysfunction should be recognized as a separate complication of extreme altitude, distinct from high altitude cerebral edema.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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