Log In

Forgot Password?


Not a member? Continue as a nonmember.

Become a Member

By becoming a member of the AAN, you can receive exclusive information to help you at every stage of your career. Benefits include:

Join Now See All Benefits

Loading... please wait

Abstract Details

Neurosyphilis Presenting as Limbic Encephalitis: a Case Report
Infectious Disease
P10 - Poster Session 10 (8:00 AM-9:00 AM)
Neurosyphilis can occur at any stage of infection and it classically presents as meningitis, cranial neuropathies, vasculitis, tabes dorsalis, or neuropsychiatric manifestations, however rarely temporal lobe abnormalities resembling limbic encephalitis have been reported.
To present an interesting case of neurosyphilis mimicking limbic encephalitis.
51-year-old male with no past medical history presents initially with 3 weeks of altered mental status, confusion and memory loss. Prior to admission to the hospital, he presented with a generalized tonic-clonic seizure. His MRI showed T2 hyperintensities in the left hippocampus, amygdala, and mesial temporal lobe with associated diffusion restriction. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) studies showed 58 white blood cells/mm3 (73% lymphocytes), a protein concentration of 165 mg/dL and a glucose concentration of 35 mg/dL. HIV serology, serum cryptococcal Antigen, HSV and VZV PCR on CSF and neuronal autoantibodies on serum were negative. EEG showed left lateralized periodic discharges. The patient was initially treated with empiric anti-infective therapy including acyclovir, ceftriaxone, and ampicillin. Subsequently, serum syphilis screen was positive with reflex Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) titer at 1:64. CSF Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) was positive at 1:64. In light of these results, the patient was transitioned to intravenous aqueous penicillin G 24 million units daily through continuous infusion. His mental status markedly improved after a few days of treatment. Repeat EEG showed only mild encephalopathy. He was discharged on levetiracetam and high dose IV penicillin G to complete a 14-day course.
Syphilis is commonly known as a great imitator; it is a treatable condition so it should not be missed. We need to be more cognizant of this diagnosis when evaluating patients with temporal lobe involvement on MRI, lymphocytic pleocytosis and hypoglycorrhachia. Although HSV and autoimmune diseases are the most common causes of limbic encephalitis, as presented in our case, syphilis testing should be considered.
Calvin Hu, MD (UT Houston)
Dr. Hu has nothing to disclose.
Guy El Helou, MD Dr. El Helou has nothing to disclose.
Nayrobi Pena Cotui No disclosure on file
Asma Balobaid, MD Dr. Balobaid has nothing to disclose.
Mayra Montalvo Perero, MD (University of Florida) Dr. Montalvo Perero has received personal compensation in the range of $500-$4,999 for serving on a Scientific Advisory or Data Safety Monitoring board for Horizon .