Opisthotonus

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Opisthotonus
Opisthotonus1.jpg
Meningitis, One Year Old Child
ICD-9 781.0
DiseasesDB 31293

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2]

Overview

Opisthotonus or opisthotonos, from Greek roots, opistho meaning "behind" and tonos meaning "tension", is a state of a severe hyperextension and spasticity in which an individual's head, neck and spinal column enter into a complete "bridging" or "arching" position. This abnormal posturing is an extrapyramidal effect and is caused by spasm of the axial muscles along the spinal column. It is seen in some cases of severe cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury or as a result of the severe muscular spasms associated with tetanus.

Pathophysiology

Opisthotonus can be produced experimentally in animals by transection of the midbrain (between superior and inferior colliculus) which results in severing all the corticoreticular fibers. Hyperextension occurs because facilitation of anterior reticulospinal tract due to removal of inhibitory corticoreticular fibers to the pons reticular formation.

Opisthotonus is more pronounced in infants. Opisthotonus in the neonate may be a symptom of meningitis or tetanus. This marked extensor tone can cause infants to "rear backwards" and stiffen out as the mother or nurse attempts to hold or feed them. Opisthotonus can be induced by any attempt at movement such as smiling, feeding, vocalization, or by seizure activity. Individuals with opisthotonus are quite challenging to position, especially in wheelchairs and car seats.

It can some times be a side effect of anti-psychotic medication or mood stabilizer, i.e. lithium intoxication.

Differential Diagnosis of Causes of Opisthotonus

In alphabetical order. [1] [2]

Physical examination findings

Image courtesy of Professor Peter Anderson DVM PhD and published with permission © PEIR, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Pathology

External links

  • Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  • Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X
  • Retrieved from "https://www.wikidoc.org/index.php?title=Opisthotonus&oldid=1109293"

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