Whipple's disease mimicking progressive supranuclear palsy: the diagnostic value of eye movement recording

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Treatable causes of parkinsonian syndromes are rare; Whipple's disease is one of them.A patient is described who presented with a parkinsonian syndrome and abnormal vertical gaze. Measurement of eye movements showed marked slowing of upward saccades, moderate slowing of downward saccades, a full range of voluntary vertical eye movements, curved trajectories of oblique saccades, and absence of square wave jerks. These features, atypical of progressive supranuclear palsy, suggested the diagnosis of Whipple's disease, which was subsequently confirmed by polymerase chain reaction analysis of intestinal biopsy material. Precise measurement of the dynamic properties of saccadic eye movements in parkinsonian patients may provide a means of identifying treatable disorders.

(J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1999;66:532-535)

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