E-Pearl of the Week: Palatal Myoclonus

July 26, 2011


Interested in submitting an e-Pearl? Click here!

Brought to you by the Resident and Fellow Section of Neurology®.

July 25, 2011

Palatal Myoclonus

Palatal myoclonus—or palatal tremor—refers to involuntary rhythmic contractions of the soft palate, sometimes accompanied by ocular, oropharyngeal or diaphragmatic myoclonus. Patients commonly complain of an audible "clicking" sound. Palatal myoclonus is exceptional among movement disorders because it often persists during sleep. "Symptomatic" palatal myoclonus results from lesions in the Guillain-Mollaret triangle (formed by the dentate nucleus, red nucleus and inferior olivary nucleus) and is often associated with olivary hypertrophy. Strokes account for the majority of such cases. This is in contrast to "essential" palatal myoclonus where there is no demonstrable cause. This type accounts for about 25% of cases.


  1. Pearce JM. Palatal Myoclonus (syn. Palatal Tremor). Eur Neurol 2008; 60:312-315.

Submitted by:
Dr. Bhavpreet Dham

Disclosure: Dr. Dham has no disclosures.

For more clinical pearls and other articles of interest to neurology trainees, visit www.neurology.org and click on the link to the Resident and Fellow Pages.

Click here to listen to this week's Neurology® Podcast.