Idiopathic cerebellar ataxia (IDCA): Diagnostic criteria and clinical analyses of 63 Japanese patients

J Neurol Sci. 2018 Jan 15:384:30-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Nov 7.


Cortical cerebellar atrophy (CCA) and multiple system atrophy with predominant cerebellar ataxia (MSA-C) are the two major forms of adult-onset sporadic ataxia. Contrary to MSA-C, there are neither diagnostic criteria nor neuroimaging features pathognomonic for CCA. Therefore, it is assumed that the category of CCA in the Japanese national registry include heterogeneous cerebellar ataxic disorders. To refine this category in more detail, we here used a clinical-based term, "idiopathic cerebellar ataxia (IDCA)", and proposed its diagnostic criteria. We collected 346 consecutive patients with the core features of the criteria (sporadic, insidious-onset and slowly progressive cerebellar ataxia in adults, and cerebellar atrophy on brain imaging). Of these, 212 (61.3%) were diagnosed with probable or possible MSA, and 30, who did not meet the diagnostic criteria for MSA at examination, were also excluded because of MRI findings suggestive of MSA. Twenty two were proven to have hereditary spinocerebellar ataxias by genetic testing, and 19 had secondary ataxias. Finally, the remaining 63 (18.2%) were diagnosed with IDCA. The mean (standard deviation) age at onset was 57.2 (10.8) years. Of these, 25 (39.7%) showed pure cerebellar ataxia, and the remaining 38 (60.3%) had some of extracerebellar features including abnormal tendon reflexes (46.0%), positive Babinski sign (9.5%), sensory disturbance (12.7%), cognitive impairment (9.5%), and involuntary movements (7.9%). Our results show that IDCA refined by the diagnostic criteria still includes clinically and genetically heterogeneous ataxic disorders. More extensive genetic analyses will be of significance for further clarification of this group.

Keywords: Cortical cerebellar atrophy (CCA); Diagnostic criteria; Idiopathic cerebellar ataxia (IDCA); Multiple system atrophy (MSA); Sporadic ataxia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / diagnosis*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple System Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Multiple System Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies