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Medicina (B Aires). 2013;73 Suppl 1:30-7.

[Acute cerebellar ataxia in childhood].

[Article in Spanish]

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Instituto Neurológico, Universidad de Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela. E-mail:


Acute cerebellar ataxia of childhood is the most frequent neurological complication of chickenpox virus infection. Acute cerebellar ataxia is categorized within the group of acute postinfectious complications. The aims of this study were: (I) to evaluate the clinical presentation, management, and follow-up of children hospitalized due to acute cerebellar ataxia in a tertiary pediatric hospital, where immunization for chickenpox is not available, and (II) to describe the differential diagnosis of acute postinfectious cerebellitis. We evaluated 95 patients with acute cerebellar ataxia. The diagnostic criteria for acute ataxia were: Acute-onset loss of coordination or gait difficulties, with or without nystagmus, lasting less than 48 hours in a previously healthy child. All children met the inclusion criteria, except those with drug-induced ataxia in whom duration should be less than 24 hours for inclusion in the study. The data were recorded in a clinical pediatrics and neurological chart. Among immunosuppressed patients acute cerebellar ataxia was most frequently due to chickenpox. Most of the patients were male. Age at presentation ranged from preschool to 5 years of age. Time lapse between presentation of the rash and hospital admission ranged from 1 to 3 days. CSF study was performed in 59.5% of the cases. Brain magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scan showed edema in 33.3%. Intravenous acyclovir was used in 23 patients, however, no significant differences were found in clinical manifestations and follow-up between treated and untreated patients. Ataxia was the first clinical manifestation. Mean hospital stay ranged from 2 to 11 days with a mean of 4 days.


acute ataxia; ataxia; cerebellum; pediatric emergencies; postinfectious cerebellitis

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