Neuro-Behçet's disease in childhood: a focus on the neuro-ophthalmological features

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2013 Jan 29;8:18. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-8-18.


Neuro-Behçet's disease (NBD) involves the central nervous system; peripheral nervous system involvement is not often reported. NBD is quite common in adult patients and occurs rarely during childhood and adolescence. Young patients may share symptoms and signs of NBD with other neuro-ophthalmological disorders (e.g. idiopathic intracranial hypertension); thus, making the differential diagnosis difficult. Neuroimaging is mandatory and necessary for a correct NBD diagnosis but in children radiological examinations are often difficult to perform without sedation. From 1971 to 2011, 130 patients aged ≤16 years have been reported with NBD, according to retrospective surveys, case series, and case reports. The origin of the reported cases met the well-known geographical distribution of Behçet's disease (BD); the mean age at presentation of neurological findings was 11.8 years, with male gender prevalence (ratio, 2.9:1). We considered in detail the neuro-ophthalmological features of the 53 cases whose neuroimaging alterations were described with an assigned radiological pattern of the disease (parenchymal: 14 cases, non-parechymal: 35 cases, and mixed: 4 cases). In 19/53 patients (36%), neuro-ophthalmological symptoms anticipated any pathognomonic sign for a BD diagnosis, or only occasional aphtae were recalled by the patients. Family history was positive in 17% of subjects. Headache was reported in 75% of the patients; in those presenting with cerebral vascular involvement, headache was combined to other symptoms of intracranial hypertension. Papilledema was the most frequently reported ophthalmological finding, followed by posterior uveitis. Treatment consisted of systemic steroids in 93% of patients, often combined with other immunosuppressive drugs (especially colchicine and azathioprine). Clinical recovery or improvement was documented in the large majority of patients. Nine subjects had definitive alterations, and one died. Based on our review and personal experience, a delayed diagnosis, and the consequently delayed immunosuppressive treatment, may favour permanent sequelae, in particular, optic atrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behcet Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Behcet Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Behcet Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eye Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents