Skew Deviation as the Initial Manifestation of Left Paramedian Thalamic Infarction

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We describe a 73-year-old man who developed diplopia as the initial manifestation of a left thalamic infarction. By the time he reached the emergency department, clouded consciousness precluded localization of the lesion. Results of brain MRI were initially interpreted as negative. Ophthalmologic examination several hours later disclosed a small vertical ocular misalignment attributed to skew deviation. This finding led to careful scrutiny of the upper brainstem on MRI. Comparison of the diffusion, apparent diffusion coefficient, and exponential apparent diffusion coefficient MRI studies allowed a diagnosis of subtle left thalamic infarction. The recognition of skew deviation in this setting is important because it may be the most specific indicator of a brainstem lesion.

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