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Kremmyda, Olympia; Frenzel, Claudia; Hüfner, Katharina; Goldschagg, Nicolina; Brem, Christian; Linn, Jennifer and Strupp, Michael (2020): Acute binocular diplopia: peripheral or central? In: Journal of neurology, Vol. 267: pp. 136-142 [PDF, 480kB]


OBJECTIVES Acute diplopia is a diagnostic challenge for clinicians, in particular in the emergency department. The most common cause of acute diplopia are ocular motor nerve palsies (OMP). In this prospective study, we focused on identifying the most crucial signs and symptoms for differentiating between peripheral and central OMP. METHODS We prospectively evaluated 56 non-consecutive patients who presented at our emergency department with acute binocular diplopia (≤ 10~days). The patient history was taken using a standardized questionnaire and patients underwent a neurological, neuro-ophthalmological and neuro-otological examination, including measurement of the subjective visual vertical (SVV), Harms tangent screen test, and cranial MRI. ESULTS Forty-six out of 56 patients were diagnosed with an ocular motor cranial nerve palsy (OMP), 21 of peripheral and 23 of central origin; in two patients, the etiology remained unknown. The following features were different in peripheral and central OMP: (1) the presence of vertigo/dizziness was more frequent in central (43.5%) than in peripheral (9.5%) OMP. (2) Central ocular motor signs, such as saccadic smooth pursuit, additional internuclear ophthalmoplegia, skew deviation, and saccade palsies, were also found more frequently in the central than in the peripheral group (86.7% vs. 33.3%). (3) Further, a pathological SVV deviation by monocular testing of the non-affected eye was also more common in central (77.3%) than in peripheral OMP (38.9%). The presence of all three factors has a positive predictive value of 100% (CI 50-100%) for the presence of a central lesion. CONCLUSIONS In acute diplopia due to central OMP, the most important accompanying symptom is vertigo/dizziness, and the most important clinical signs are central ocular motor disorders (which require examination of the non-paretic eye) and an SVV deviation in the non-paretic eye.

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