What is the pathophysiology of upbeat nystagmus?

Updated: Oct 17, 2018
  • Author: Christopher M Bardorf, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Edsel Ing, MD, MPH, FRCSC  more...
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Upbeat nystagmus is defined as nystagmus with the fast phase beating in an upward direction. Daroff and Troost described 2 distinct types. [8] The first type consists of a large amplitude nystagmus that increases in intensity with upward gaze. This type is suggestive of a lesion of the anterior vermis of the cerebellum. The second type consists of a small amplitude nystagmus that decreases in intensity with upward gaze and increases in intensity with downward gaze. This type is suggestive of lesions of the medulla. [9]

This condition may occur when the tone within the pathways of the posterior semicircular canals is relatively higher than the tone within the anterior semicircular canals, and it can occur from lesions of the ventral tegmental tract or the brachium conjunctivum, which carry optokinetic input from the anterior semicircular canals to the third nerve nuclei.

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