Bilateral simultaneous infarction in the territories of the posterior inferior cerebellar arteries (PICAs) is rare but was recently reported with increasing frequency, probably because of the wider availability of magnetic resonance imaging. The cause of these infarcts is believed to be atherosclerotic or embolic occlusion of a dominant PICA, which perfused the territories of the medial branches of both PICAs.
We encountered a patient with simultaneous infarction in the territories of the medial branches of both PICAs. The clinical course, imaging results, and laboratory findings are presented. The patient was diagnosed with neurosyphilis based on a history of chancre, positive serum and cerebrospinal serologies, cerebrospinal pleocytosis, and increased intrathecal immunoglobulin synthesis. We believe that meningovascular syphilis caused the bilateral cerebellar infarct via presumed thromboangiitis of a dominant PICA perfusing both cerebellar hemispheres. The patient was treated with intravenous high doses of penicillin.
This case reminds us that meningovascular syphilis should be considered in younger patients with stroke. Patients with bilateral cerebellar infarction may solely have symptoms of vertigo and ataxia but can develop life-threatening complications because of edema of the infarcted tissue with resultant hydrocephalus and pressure on the brainstem.