Acute cerebellitis with near-fatal cerebellar swelling and benign outcome under conservative treatment with high dose steroids

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 1998;2(3):157-62. doi: 10.1016/s1090-3798(98)80032-9.


Acute cerebellar swelling is an emergency because of brainstem compression as well as upward or downward cerebellar herniation. Few childhood cases are on record, with fatal outcome in three out of six. We report a girl with probable Epstein-Barr virus-associated cerebellar swelling who recovered completely with steroid treatment after a stormy course. Review of the literature showed that all three patients, including our own, who recovered fully, received high-dose steroids in contrast to none of the four patients who died or survived with sequelae. Neuroimaging and evoked potential studies are useful for early diagnosis and disease monitoring. We conclude that for the time being high-dose steroid treatment is advocated in patients with acute infectious or parainfectious cerebellar swelling.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Edema* / drug therapy
  • Brain Edema* / etiology
  • Brain Edema* / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology*
  • Cerebellar Diseases / virology*
  • Child
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Immunoglobulin M