The movement disorder observed in four cases of ovarian teratoma associated encephalitis is described. The illness began with neuropsychiatric symptoms and was followed by prolonged unresponsiveness, respiratory failure, and autonomic instability. The movement disorder consisted of semirhythmic repetitive bulbar and limb movements and persisted during prolonged periods of unresponsiveness, diminishing as awareness returned. The characteristics of the movement disorder differed from recognized dyskinesias. It is suggested that interruption of forebrain corticostriatal inputs by anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antibodies removes tonic inhibition of brainstem pattern generators releasing primitive patterns of bulbar and limb movement. Recognition of the distinctive movements should prompt a search for an ovarian teratoma since the condition is responsive to tumor resection and immunomodulation.
(c) 2008 Movement Disorder Society.