Author | Silvana Riggio, MD

Articles

What You Forgot About the Neurologic Exam, Part 2:

January 01, 2005

ABSTRACT: Asymmetry-whether of strength, reflexes, or sensory function-is an important localizing finding in the neurologic evaluation. Asymmetric deficits of strength may indicate an acute CNS lesion. Symmetric hyperreflexia or hyporeflexia alone is not diagnostic; compare reflexes between sides of the body and between upper and lower extremities. The extensor plantar response (Babinski reflex) suggests an upper motor neuron lesion. During the sensory examination, look for asymmetry and determine whether both light touch and pinprick sensation are intact. Simultaneous stimulation with 2 sharp objects on opposite sides of the body-done to detect extinction of response on 1 side-can uncover subtle sensory deficits.

What You Forgot About the Neurologic Exam, Part 1:

December 01, 2004

ABSTRACT: When you approach a patient with a neurologic complaint, look for abnormal postures and bodily asymmetries. Careful history taking puts the patient's complaint in context and gives direction to the clinical investigation. Remember that a change in the character of an existing condition requires assessment as a new complaint. The mental status evaluation, at a minimum, considers the patient's level of alertness and orientation, including speech and comprehension. Distinguish among delirium, dementia, and psychosis, and avoid making a psychiatric diagnosis until organic causes have been excluded. Cranial nerves II to VIII are the most pertinent to the neurologic screening examination. The evaluation of cranial nerves II, III, IV, and VI is particularly important in patients with headache or visual disturbances and suspected intracranial lesions.