Neurologic aspects of inflammatory bowel disease

Neurology. 1995 Mar;45(3 Pt 1):416-21. doi: 10.1212/wnl.45.3.416.


To determine the frequency, spectrum, and clinical features of neurologic disorders associated with ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD).

Background: Extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are well documented, but the association of IBD with neurologic involvement is rare and often controversial.

Methods: Tertiary care center ambulatory and hospital services data bank retrospective computerized search with subsequent file review.

Patients: From among 638 IBD patients diagnosed from 1981 to 1991, we identified 10 CD patients and nine UC patients with neurologic involvement unrelated to a defined systemic or iatrogenic cause. Neurologic disorders diagnosed 15 or more years before the intestinal symptomatology were excluded.

Results: Three percent of IBD patients had neurologic involvement. In 14 of 19 (74%), it started within a mean of 5.7 years (range, 0.7 to 12 years) after the diagnosis of bowel disease, and in two of 19 (10%) it occurred at the time of IBD exacerbation. During the course of IBD, 10 of 19 patients (53%) exhibited other extraintestinal manifestations. Peripheral nerve disorders were observed in six UC patients. Myelopathy (5 patients), myopathy (3), and myasthenia gravis (1) were diagnosed in eight CD patients and one UC patient. Cerebrovascular disorders occurred in two UC and two CD patients.

Conclusions: Neurologic disorders associated with IBD are more common than appreciated and follow a different pattern of involvement in UC and CD. A prospective study is required to define the nature of this association.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies