Tourette's syndrome and its borderland

Pract Neurol. 2018 Aug;18(4):262-270. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2017-001755. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


The Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (or Tourette's syndrome) has a prevalence of 1% of children with a wide range of severity and associated comorbidities. The last 20 years have seen advances in the understanding of the syndrome's complex genetics and underlying neurobiology. Investigation with imaging and neurophysiology techniques indicate it is a neurodevelopmental condition with dysfunction of basal ganglia-cortical interactions, which are now also being studied in animal models. There is also increasing evidence for treatments although it often remains difficult to manage. First-line options include neuroleptics, other drugs and specialised behavioural treatments. Deep brain stimulation is an evolving field, not yet fully established. This review focuses on the phenomenology of tics, how to assess and manage the syndrome, and uses examples of atypical cases to explore the characteristics and limits of its clinical spectrum.

Keywords: gilles de la tourette; movement disorders; neuropsychiatry; paediatric neurology.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Photography
  • Tics / diagnosis
  • Tics / epidemiology*
  • Tics / history
  • Tourette Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Tourette Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Tourette Syndrome / history*
  • Tourette Syndrome / therapy


  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents