Cerebellar Ataxia in Children: A Clinical and MRI Approach to the Differential Diagnosis

Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2018 Aug;27(4):275-302. doi: 10.1097/RMR.0000000000000175.


: The cerebellum has long been recognized as a fundamental structure in motor coordination. Structural cerebellar abnormalities and diseases involving the cerebellum are relatively common in children. The not always specific clinical presentation of ataxia, incoordination, and balance impairment can often be a challenge to attain a precise diagnosis. Continuous advances in genetic research and moreover the constant development in neuroimaging modalities, particularly in the field of magnetic resonance imaging, have promoted a better understanding of cerebellar diseases and led to several modifications in their classification in recent years. Thorough clinical and neuroimaging investigation is recommended for proper diagnosis. This review outlines an update of causes of cerebellar disorders that present clinically with ataxia in the pediatric population. These conditions were classified in 2 major groups, namely genetic malformations and acquired or disruptive disorders recognizable by neuroimaging and subsequently according to their features during the prenatal and postnatal periods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / pathology
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebellum / embryology
  • Cerebellum / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods*