Slowly progressive anarthria with late anterior opercular syndrome: a variant form of frontal cortical atrophy syndromes

J Neurol Sci. 1996 Dec;144(1-2):44-58. doi: 10.1016/s0022-510x(96)00096-2.


We describe eight patients with slowly progressive speech production deficit combining speech apraxia, dysarthria, dysprosody and orofacial apraxia, and initially no other deficit in other language and non-language neuropsychological domains. Long-term follow-up (6-10 years) in 4 cases showed an evolution to muteness, bilateral suprabulbar paresis with automatic-voluntary dissociation and frontal lobe cognitive slowing without generalised intellectual deterioration. Most disabled patients presented with an anterior opercular syndrome (Foix-Chavany-Marie syndrome), and pyramidal or extrapyramidal signs. CT and MRI findings disclosed asymmetric (left > right) progressive cortical atrophy of the frontal lobes predominating in the posterior inferior frontal region, notably the operculum. SPECT and PET revealed a decreased cerebral blood flow and metabolism, prominent in the left posterior-inferior frontal gyrus and premotor cortex, extending bilaterally in the most advanced cases. Pathological study of two cases showed non-specific neuronal loss, gliosis, and spongiosis of superficial cortical layers, mainly confined to the frontal lobes, with no significant abnormalities in the basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, brain stem (except severe neuronal loss in the substantia nigra in one case), and spinal cord. We propose to call this peculiar syndrome Slowly Progressive Anarthria (SPA), based on its specific clinical presentation, and its metabolic and pathological correlates. SPA represents another clinical expression of focal cortical degeneration syndromes, that may overlap with other similar syndromes, specially primary progressive aphasia and the various frontal lobe dementias.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apraxias / diagnosis
  • Apraxias / metabolism
  • Articulation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Articulation Disorders / metabolism
  • Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / diagnosis
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / metabolism
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Dysarthria / diagnosis*
  • Dysarthria / metabolism
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Paresis / diagnosis
  • Paresis / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Tracts / pathology
  • Syndrome