Palatal tremor, progressive multiple cranial nerve palsies, and cerebellar ataxia: a case report and review of literature of palatal tremors in neurodegenerative disease

Mov Disord. 1999 Jul;14(4):689-93. doi: 10.1002/1531-8257(199907)14:4<689::aid-mds1022>;2-8.


We describe a patient with an unusual clinical presentation of progressive multiple cranial nerve palsies, cerebellar ataxia, and palatal tremor (PT) resulting from an unknown etiology. Magnetic resonance imaging showed evidence of hypertrophy of the inferior olivary nuclei, brain stem atrophy, and marked cerebellar atrophy. This combination of progressive multiple cranial nerve palsies, cerebellar ataxia, and PT has never been reported in the literature. We have also reviewed the literature of PT secondary to neurodegenerative causes. In a total of 23 patients, the common causes are sporadic olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA; 22%), Alexander's disease (22%), unknown etiology (43.4%), and occasionally progressive supranuclear palsy (4.3%) and spinocerebellar degeneration (4.3%). Most patients present with progressive cerebellar ataxia and approximately two thirds of them have rhythmic tremors elsewhere. Ear clicks are observed in 13% and evidence of hypertrophy of the inferior olivary nucleus in 25% of the patients. The common neurodegenerative causes of PT are OPCA/multiple system atrophy, Alexander's disease, and, in most of them, the result of an unknown cause.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / etiology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / pathology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / etiology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myoclonus / etiology
  • Myoclonus / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / complications*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Palatal Muscles* / innervation
  • Palate, Soft*
  • Paralysis / etiology
  • Paralysis / pathology
  • Tremor / etiology*
  • Tremor / pathology