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Isolated Medial Rectus Nuclear Palsy as a Rare Presentation of Midbrain Infarction

Unusual clinical course, Challenging differential diagnosis

Mohammed Al-Sofiani, Peterkin Lee Kwen

Department of Medicine, South Buffalo Mercy Hospital, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA

Am J Case Rep 2015; 16:715-718

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.893875

Available online:

Published: 2015-10-08

BACKGROUND: Diplopia is a common subjective complaint that can be the first manifestation of a serious pathology. Here, we report a rare case of midbrain infarction involving the lateral subnucleus of the oculomotor nuclear complex presenting as diplopia, with no other stroke manifestations.
CASE REPORT: An 83-year-old right-handed white man with past medical history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and coronary artery disease presented to the emergency department (ED) with diplopia and unsteadiness. Two days prior to admission, the patient woke up with constant horizontal diplopia and unsteadiness, which limited his daily activities and led to a fall at home. He denied any weakness, clumsiness, nausea, vomiting, photophobia, fever, or chills. Ocular exam showed a disconjugate gaze at rest, weakness of the left medial rectus muscle, impaired convergence test, and bilateral 3-mm reactive pupils. The diplopia resolved by closing either eye. The remaining extraocular muscles and other cranial nerves were normal. There was no nystagmus, ptosis, or visual field deficit. Sensation, muscle tone, and strength were normal in all extremities. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain revealed a tiny focus of restricted diffusion in the left posterior lateral midbrain.
CONCLUSIONS: A thorough history and physical examination is essential to diagnose and manage diplopia. Isolated extraocular palsy is usually thought to be caused by orbital lesions or muscular diseases. Here, we report a case of midbrain infarction manifested as isolated medial rectus palsy.

Keywords: Brain Infarction - diagnosis, Aged, 80 and over, Cerebral Infarction - complications, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mesencephalon - blood supply, Oculomotor Muscles - innervation, Oculomotor Nerve - pathology, Oculomotor Nerve Diseases - etiology