Corticosteroid-responsive postmalaria encephalopathy characterized by motor aphasia, myoclonus, and postural tremor

Arch Neurol. 1998 Mar;55(3):417-20. doi: 10.1001/archneur.55.3.417.


Objectives: To study the clinical spectrum of an acute severe encephalopathy occurring in 2 patients after recovery from falciparum malaria infection and to compare it with the reported clinical features of the postmalaria neurological syndrome.

Design: Case report.

Setting: Tertiary care hospital.

Patients: Two patients presented with acute onset of fluctuating motor aphasia, severe generalized myoclonus, and postural tremor. Additional signs were cerebellar ataxia, and in 1 patient, generalized epileptic seizures. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain revealed patchy white matter lesions in 1 patient. Clinically, the patients' conditions continued to worsen until corticosteroids were introduced, the use of which induced a rapid, albeit incomplete, recovery.

Conclusions: We describe a new, severe variant of the still poorly defined postmalaria neurological syndrome. We propose a preliminary classification of this syndrome, according to its clinical characteristics, as follows: a mild or localized form, characterized by isolated cerebellar ataxia or postural tremor; a diffuse, but relatively mild encephalopathic form, characterized by acute confusion or epileptic seizures; and a severe, corticosteroid-responsive encephalopathy that is characterized by motor aphasia, generalized myoclonus, postural tremor, and cerebellar ataxia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Aphasia / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Cerebral / complications*
  • Malaria, Cerebral / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myoclonus / etiology*
  • Posture
  • Tremor / etiology*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones