Objectives Cardinal extrapyramidal features of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) help in clinically differentiating this condition from Parkinson's disease and other Parkinsonian syndromes. However, not all extrapyramidal features may be initially present, thus posing a difficulty in early diagnosis. We studied their frequency at the time of first presentation.
Methods Patients diagnosed clinically with PSP using the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Society for PSP (NINDS/SPSP) criteria and seen between August 2010 and April 2013 were examined for the presence, ‘presence with deviation’ or absence of six extrapyramidal features: axial rigidity, symmetry, extended posture, backward falls, absence of tremors and lack of levodopa response.
Results Twenty-eight patients (mean (SD) age 64.86 (9.72) years; 16 (57%) men) met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 14% had all six extrapyramidal features associated with PSP, 39% had five, 29% had four, 14% had three and 4% had two. The most frequent extrapyramidal sign was axial rigidity (68%). Axial plus peripheral rigidity was found in 18% of patients and peripheral rigidity alone in 14%. Extrapyramidal features were symmetrical in 29% and asymmetrical beyond 1 year in 29%. Body posture was extended in 46% and flexed in 21%. Backward falls were found in 50% and forward falls in 11%. Pill-rolling tremors were observed in 29%. Response to levodopa therapy was poor in 21% and good beyond 6 months in 39%.
Conclusions Only 14% of PSP patients present with all six cardinal extrapyramidal features. Also, deviations from standard descriptions are common in the initial stages of disease.