Bickerstaff encephalitis

Last revised by Mohamed Saber on 19 Feb 2021

Bickerstaff encephalitis is a rare immune-mediated condition believed to be one of a number of conditions sharing a similar immunological mechanism, and collectively termed anti-GQ1b IgG antibody syndrome.  

Bickerstaff encephalitis is often seen following varicella zoster virus and cytomegalovirus infections 1.

Patients typically present acutely with cerebellar ataxia and external ophthalmoplegia. They may also demonstrate drowsiness, hemisensory disturbance as well as brisk reflexes and extensor plantar response 2

It transiently involves the brainstem and basal ganglia and is characterized on MRI by regions of high T2 signal with little - if any - enhancement. Typically these regions also demonstrate some minor restricted diffusion 1

Although symptoms are severe, the condition is usually self-limiting with a good prognosis 2

Bickerstaff encephalitis was first described by Edwin Robert Bickerstaff (1920-2007), a renowned British neurologist 3.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.