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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Sixth nerve palsy


Other Names for this Disease

  • 6th nerve palsy
  • Abducens nerve palsy
  • Cranial mononeuropathy VI
  • Cranial nerve VI palsy
  • Sixth cranial nerve palsy
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Cause

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What causes sixth nerve palsy?

Sixth nerve palsy has many potential causes, the most common of which include stroke, trauma, viral illness, brain tumor, inflammation, infection (such as meningitis), migraine headache and elevated pressure inside the brain. The condition can be present at birth, but the most common cause in children is trauma. In older people, a small stroke is the most common cause. Sometimes, the cause is never found.[1]

Other causes of the condition can include:
  • small-vessel disease, particularly in diabetics (diabetic neuropathy)
  • tumors in the cavernous sinus, orbit, or base of the skull
  • Gradenigo's syndrome (which also causes ear discharge and eye pain)
  • meningeal carcinomatosis (spreading of cancer to the membranes around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Wernicke encephalopathy (a neurologic disorder)
  • brain aneurysm
  • vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
  • multiple sclerosis
  • pregnancy

Determining the cause may require blood tests, MRI and/or lumbar puncture (spinal tap).[2][3]

Last updated: 3/25/2014

References
  1. Sixth Nerve Palsy. AAPOS. November, 2012; http://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/98. Accessed 3/24/2014.
  2. Cranial Mononeuropathy VI. MedlinePlus. May 21, 2012; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000690.htm. Accessed 3/24/2014.
  3. Michael Rubin. Sixth Cranial Nerve Palsy. Merck Manuals. July, 2012; http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/neuro-ophthalmologic_and_cranial_nerve_disorders/sixth_cranial_nerve_palsy.html. Accessed 3/24/2014.


Other Names for this Disease
  • 6th nerve palsy
  • Abducens nerve palsy
  • Cranial mononeuropathy VI
  • Cranial nerve VI palsy
  • Sixth cranial nerve palsy
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.