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June 1998

Managing Oculomotor Nerve Palsy

Arch Ophthalmol. 1998;116(6):798. doi:10.1001/archopht.116.6.798

THE MANAGEMENT of neurologically isolated, nontraumatic oculomotor nerve palsy is a challenge in the wise deployment of expensive and potentially harmful diagnostic tools.

Most cases are caused by ischemia of the nerve and do not require any diagnostic tests.1-5 Others are caused by inflammatory or neoplastic meningitis that can be diagnosed with a combination of magnetic resonance imaging and lumbar puncture. But some patients harbor a cerebral aneurysm that could kill them within days and for which timely treatment is curative. In the past, the diagnosis of aneurysm has depended entirely on catheter cerebral angiography, a test that maims or kills in about 1% to 2% of cases, and perhaps more among the elderly and those with ample arteriosclerotic risk factors.6

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