Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome

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Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome
Other names: Dancing eye syndrome[1]

Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS), also known as opsoclonus-myoclonus-ataxia (OMA), is a rare neurological disorder of unknown cause which appears to be the result of an autoimmune process involving the nervous system. It is an extremely rare condition, affecting as few as 1 in 10,000,000 people per year. It affects 2 to 3% of children with neuroblastoma and has been reported to occur with celiac disease and diseases of neurologic and autonomic dysfunction[2][3]

Signs and symptoms

Image of oral cavity showing gum hypertrophy

Symptoms include:[citation needed]

  • opsoclonus (rapid, involuntary, multivectorial (horizontal and vertical), unpredictable, conjugate fast eye movements without intersaccadic [quick rotation of the eyes] intervals)
  • myoclonus (brief, involuntary twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles)
  • cerebellar ataxia, both truncal and appendicular
  • aphasia (a language disorder in which there is an impairment of speech and of comprehension of speech, caused by brain damage)
  • mutism (a language disorder in which a person does not speak despite evidence of speech ability in the past, often part of a larger neurological or psychiatric disorder)
  • lethargy[4][5]
  • irritability or malaise
  • drooling
  • strabismus (a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other)[6]
  • vomiting[7]
  • sleep disturbances
  • gum hypertrophy[8]
  • emotional disturbances (including fits of rage[9])

About half of all OMS cases occur in association with neuroblastoma (a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system usually occurring in infants and children).[10]

Disease course and clinical subtypes

In most cases, OMS starts with an acute flare-up of physical symptoms within days or weeks, but some less obvious symptoms such as irritability and malaise may begin weeks or months earlier.[citation needed]


In children, most cases are associated with neuroblastoma and most of the others are suspected to be associated with a low-grade neuroblastoma that spontaneously regressed before detection. In adults, most cases are associated with breast carcinoma or small-cell lung carcinoma.[11] It is one of the few paraneoplastic (meaning 'indirectly caused by cancer') syndromes that occurs in both children and adults, although the mechanism of immune dysfunction underlying the adult syndrome is probably quite different.[citation needed]

It is hypothesized that a viral infection (perhaps St. Louis encephalitis, Chikungunya, Epstein-Barr, Coxsackie B, enterovirus, or just a flu) causes the remaining cases, though a direct connection has not been proven.[12]. Rare cases of Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome associated with Lyme disease have also been reported.[13]

OMS is not generally considered an infectious disease. OMS is not passed on genetically.[citation needed]

Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome may be induced by Phenytoin according to medical literature[8]


Because OMS is so rare and occurs at an average age of 19 months (6 to 36 months), a diagnosis can be slow. Some cases have been diagnosed as having been caused by a virus. After a diagnosis of OMS is made, an associated neuroblastoma is discovered in half of cases, with median delay of 3 months.[14]

The interictal EEG pattern is usually normal.[15]


There is no known definitive cure for OMS. However, several drugs have proven to be effective in their treatment.

Some of medication used to treat the symptoms are:

  • ACTH has shown improvements in symptoms but can result in an incomplete recovery with residual deficits.
  • Corticosteroids (such as prednisone or methylprednisolone) used at high dosages (500 mg - 2 g per day intravenously for a course of 3 to 5 days) can accelerate regression of symptoms. Subsequent very gradual tapering with pills generally follows. Most patients require high doses for months to years before tapering.
  • Intravenous Immunoglobulins (IVIg) are often used with varying results.
  • Several other immunosuppressive drugs, such as cyclophosphamide and azathioprine, may be helpful in some cases.
  • Chemotherapy for neuroblastoma may be effective, although data is contradictory and unconvincing at this point in time.
  • Rituximab has been used with encouraging results.[16]
  • Other medications are used to treat symptoms without influencing the nature of the disease (symptomatic treatment):
    • Trazodone can be useful against irritability and sleep problems
  • Additional treatment options include plasmapheresis for severe, steroid-unresponsive relapses.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders Archived 2021-08-06 at the Wayback Machine (NORD) recommends FLAIR therapy consisting of a three-agent protocol involving front-loaded high-dose ACTH, IVIg, and rituximab that was developed by the National Pediatric Myoclonus Center Archived 2021-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, and has the best-documented outcomes.[17] Almost all patients (80-90%) show improvement with this treatment and the relapse rate appears to be about 20%.[18]

A more detailed summary of current treatment options can be found at Treatment Options Archived 2021-03-09 at the Wayback Machine

The following medications should probably be avoided:

  • Midazolam - Can cause irritability.
  • Melatonin - Is known to stimulate the immune system.
  • Also, see "An Innovative Approach to the Problem of Sedating Children with Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome". Pranzatelli Abstracts. Archived from the original on 2021-03-09. Retrieved 2021-08-18. for more details


Currently, there are no clinically established laboratory investigations available to predict prognosis or therapeutic response.[citation needed]

Tumors in children who develop OMS tend to be more mature, showing favorable histology and absence of n-myc oncogene amplification than similar tumors in children without symptoms of OMS.[19] Involvement of local lymph nodes is common, but these children rarely have distant metastases and their prognosis, in terms of direct morbidity and mortality effects from the tumor, is excellent.[20] The three-year survival rate for children with non-metastatic neuroblastoma and OMS was 100% according to Children’s Cancer Group data (gathered from 675 patients diagnosed between 1980 and 1994); three-year survival in comparable patients with OMS was 77%.[21] Although the symptoms of OMS are typically steroid-responsive and recovery from acute symptoms of OMS can be quite good, children often suffer lifelong neurologic sequelae that impair motor, cognitive, language, and behavioral development.[22][23]

Most children will experience a relapsing form of OMS, though a minority will have a monophasic course and may be more likely to recover without residual deficits.[24] Viral infection may play a role in the reactivation of disease in some patients who had previously experienced remission, possibly by expanding the memory B cell population.[25] Studies have generally asserted that 70-80% of children with OMS will have long-term neurologic, cognitive, behavioral, developmental, and academic impairment. Since neurologic and developmental difficulties have not been reported as a consequence of neuroblastoma or its treatment, it is thought that these are exclusively due to the immune mechanism underlying OMS.[26]

One study concludes that: "Patients with OMA and neuroblastoma have excellent survival but a high risk of neurologic sequelae. Favourable disease stage correlates with a higher risk for development of neurologic sequelae. The role of anti-neuronal antibodies in late sequelae of OMA needs further clarification".[21]

Another study states that: "Residual behavioral, language, and cognitive problems occurred in the majority".[27]


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts and supports research on various movement disorders, including opsoclonus myoclonus. These studies are focused on finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure these disorders, as well as increasing knowledge about them.[28]


OMS was first described by Marcel Kinsbourne in 1962.[29] (The term 'Opsoclonus' was coined by Orzechowski in 1913, but it was classically described and associated with neuroblastoma by Kinsbourne). Other names for OMS include:[citation needed]

  • Dancing Eyes-Dancing Feet syndrome
  • Dancing Eyes syndrome (see also Nystagmus)
  • Kinsbourne syndrome
  • Myoclonic Encephalopathy of Infants (MEI), not to be confused with Early myoclonic encephalopathy (EME)
  • Opsoclonic Cerebellopathy[30]
  • Opsoclonus-Myoclonus-Ataxia (OMA)
  • Paraneoplastic Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Ataxia (POMA)


  1. RESERVED, INSERM US14-- ALL RIGHTS. "Orphanet: Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome". www.orpha.net. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  2. Baets, J; Pals, P; Bergmans, B; Foncke, E; Smets, K; Hauman, H; Vanderwegen, L; Cras, P (2006). "Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome: A clinicopathological confrontation". Acta Neurologica Belgica. 106 (3): 142–6. PMID 17091618.
  3. Deconinck, N; Scaillon, M; Segers, V; Groswasser, J. J.; Dan, B (2006). Myoclonus Associated With Celiac Disease.pdf "Opsoclonus-myoclonus associated with celiac disease" (PDF). Pediatric Neurology. 34 (4): 312–4. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2005.08.034. PMID 16638509. Archived from the original on 2021-08-28. Retrieved 2021-08-18. {{cite journal}}: Check |url= value (help)
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  9. Pranzatelli, M. R.; Tate, E. D.; Dukart, W. S.; Flint, M. J.; Hoffman, M. T.; Oksa, A. E. (2005). "Sleep disturbance and rage attacks in opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome: response to trazodone". The Journal of Pediatrics. 147 (3): 372–8. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2005.05.016. PMID 16182678.
  10. "Neuroblastoma". The Lecturio Medical Concept Library. Archived from the original on 11 August 2021. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  11. Shukla, Rakesh; Ahuja, RC; Kumar, Rajesh; Singh, Dilip; Sinha, Manish (2010). "Opsoclonus–myoclonus syndrome caused by varicella-zoster virus". Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. 13 (3): 211–2. doi:10.4103/0972-2327.70876. PMC 2981762. PMID 21085535.
  12. Sauvant, Marie; Thomas, Quentin; Mohr, Sophie; Blanc-Labarre, Christelle; Béjot, Yannick; Delpont, Benoit (1 February 2021). "Opsoclonus and Neuroborreliosis: Can't See the Forest for the Trees". Neurology: Clinical Practice. 11 (1): e6–e7. doi:10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000824. PMC 8101318. PMID 33968479.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: PMC embargo expired (link)
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  14. Ronald, David. Clinical Pediatric Neurology, 3rd edition, 2009, page 205.
  15. Pranzatelli MR, Tate ED, Travelstead AL, Longee D (January 2005). "Immunologic and clinical responses to rituximab in a child with opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome". Pediatrics. 115 (1): e115–9. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-0845. PMID 15601813.
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  19. Gesundheit B, Smith CR, Gerstle JT, Weitzman SS, Chan HS (September 2004). "Ataxia and secretory diarrhea: two unusual paraneoplastic syndromes occurring concurrently in the same patient with ganglioneuroblastoma". J. Pediatr. Hematol. Oncol. 26 (9): 549–52. doi:10.1097/01.mph.0000139414.66455.a4. PMID 15342979. S2CID 38910287.
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  23. Mitchell WG, Brumm VL, Azen CG, Patterson KE, Aller SK, Rodriguez J (October 2005). "Longitudinal neurodevelopmental evaluation of children with opsoclonus-ataxia". Pediatrics. 116 (4): 901–7. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-2377. PMID 16199699. S2CID 34072100.
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  27. "NINDS Opsoclonus Myoclonus Information Page". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Archived from the original on October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  28. Kinsbourne M (August 1962). "Myoclonic encephalopathy of infants". J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry. 25 (3): 271–6. doi:10.1136/jnnp.25.3.271. PMC 495454. PMID 21610907.
  29. Pranzatelli, Michael R. (1992). "The neurobiology of the opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome" (PDF). Clinical Neuropharmacology. 15 (3): 186–288. CiteSeerX doi:10.1097/00002826-199206000-00002. PMID 1394242. Archived from the original on August 28, 2021. Retrieved March 14, 2021. myoclonic encephalopathy (3-10) of infants (7,11-15) or childhood (16,17), dancing eyes (18,19), dancing feet (20), infantile polymyoclonia (21-23) or polymyoclonus syndrome (20,24-26), opsoclonus syndrome (27,28), acute cerebellar encephalopathy (29-32), encephalitis (33), or ataxia (34), syndrome of rapid irregular movements of eyes and limbs in childhood (35), oculocerebellomyoclonic syndrome (36-38), Kinsbourne syndrome (9,39-41), opsoclonus, body tremulousness, and benign encephalitis (42-43), syndrome of ocular oscillations and truncal myoclonus (44), encephalopathy associated with occult neuroblastoma (45), opsomyoclonus (46-48), or opsoclonus-myoclonus (49-55), opsoclonic cerebellopathy (56,57), or simply opsoclonus (58-60). The description opsoclonus, myoclonus, ataxia, (61) and encephalopathy (62) may be the most complete, but opsoclonus-myoclonus will be used here.

Further reading

  • Mitchell WG, Davalos-Gonzalez Y, Brumm VL, Aller SK, Burger E, Turkel SB, Borchert MS, Hollar S, Padilla S (January 2002). "Opsoclonus-ataxia caused by childhood neuroblastoma: developmental and neurologic sequelae". Pediatrics. 109 (1): 86–98. PMID 11773546.
  • Pranzatelli MR, Travelstead AL, Tate ED, Allison TJ, Moticka EJ, Franz DN, Nigro MA, Parke JT, Stumpf DA, Verhulst SJ (May 2004). "B- and T-cell markers in opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome: immunophenotyping of CSF lymphocytes". Neurology. 62 (9): 1526–32. doi:10.1212/WNL.62.9.1526. PMID 15136676. S2CID 71988257.
  • Rothenberg AB, Berdon WE, D'Angio GJ, Yamashiro DJ, Cowles RA (July 2009). "The association between neuroblastoma and opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome: a historical review". Pediatr Radiol. 39 (7): 723–6. doi:10.1007/s00247-009-1282-x. PMID 19430769. S2CID 24523263.

External links

External resources