E-Pearl of the Week: Paroxysmal dysarthria and ataxia

January 18, 2013


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January 17, 2013

Paroxysmal dysarthria and ataxia

Paroxysmal symptoms in the course of multiple sclerosis are relatively rare, affecting less than 10% of patients, but have been well described.  Paroxysmal dysarthria and ataxia are a specific constellation of such symptoms that were first well documented by Dr. Harry Lee Parker in 1946. He initially reported called this “periodic ataxia” and described 11 patients with acute generalized ataxia and dysarthria lasting less than minutes, which resolved abruptly. Attacks occurred periodically throughout days to weeks and rarely remitted. With the advent of advanced neuroimaging, the most commonly identified site of pathology in patients with paroxysmal dysarthria and ataxia is the midbrain.


  1. Klaas JP, Burkholder DB, Singer W, Boes CJ. Harry Lee Parker and Paroxysmal Dysarthria and Ataxia. Neurology. 2013; 80:311–314.
  2. Blanco Y, Compta Y, Graus F, Saiz A. Midbrain lesions and paroxysmal dysarthria in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler 2008;14:694–697.

Submitted by: Jennifer E. Fugate, D.O.

Disclosure: Dr. Fugate served on the editorial team for the Neurology® Resident and Fellow Section.

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