Encephalopathy with calcifications of the basal ganglia in children. A reappraisal of Fahr's syndrome with respect to 14 new cases

Neuropediatrics. 1989 Feb;20(1):12-9. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1071258.


Calcifications of the basal ganglia are described under the heading of "Fahr's syndrome". The clinical pattern is variable and the syndrome may be sporadic or familial. This study describes a personal series of 14 cases of encephalopathy with calcification of the basal ganglia and reviews the literature cases. A four-group classification is proposed. The first group includes encephalopathy, microcephaly, dwarfism, retinal degeneration or optic atrophy, symmetrical patchy demyelination with calcifications and probable autosomal recessive inheritance. Some cases have an early onset, a rapid evolution. Others have a later onset, longer course and retinal degeneration. In the second group, the children suffer from a congenital encephalopathy or a cerebral palsy without clear deterioration, without short stature, ocular impairment or persistent CSF abnormalities. This group has not been reported in the literature. The cases do not seem to be genetic. The precise cause in unknown but a sporadic non progressive anoxo-ischemic, or viral prenatal disease is suggested. In the third group, the association of encephalopathy, microcephaly, and persistent CSF lymphocytosis, has a high recurrence rate. The pathogenesis is still a matter of dispute. The fourth group is characterized by autosomal dominant calcifications of the basal ganglia with or without neurological abnormalities. Finally calcium metabolism disorders and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy may be associated with calcifications of the basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / complications*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / complications*
  • Calcinosis / complications*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Radiography