Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 June 2013
Neurosyphilis (NS) may present with neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by cognitive impairment, personality disorders, and confusion, among others. Very few studies have focused on neuropsychiatric disorders secondary to NS in elderly people.
A retrospective chart review was performed to characterize the psychiatric findings, clinical signs and symptoms, laboratory findings, and brain magnetic resonance imaging results of ten elderly inpatients with NS.
In these ten patients, the most common presenting symptoms included a wide variety of psychiatric manifestations. The serum rapid plasma regain (RPR) and Treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay (TPPA) of the ten patients were positive, with positive CSF TPPA and RPR rates of 100% and 60%, respectively. In addition, 90% of the patients demonstrated abnormal imaging, including cerebral atrophy, infarct ischemic stroke, and hydrocephalus.
Our findings support the importance of serological tests for syphilis as a routine component of the evaluation of patients with clinically evident neurological or psychiatric symptoms. If the serology is positive, all of the patients should be examined with a lumbar puncture. Moreover, psychiatric illnesses secondary to NS in the elderly also deserve medical attention.