Isolated abducens nerve palsy in a patient with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection

Aishwarya Anilkumar, Elizabeth Tan, Jonathan Cleaver, Hamish D Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The neuro-ophthalmological complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection are emerging but the spectrum of presentations and pathophysiological mechanism underpinning the association remains to be fully determined. We describe the case of a 44-year-old female who presented with a 12-hour history of diplopia preceded by a mild headache and found to have an isolated right abducens nerve palsy. Initial vital signs were normal but she developed a fever and nasopharyngeal swab confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by RT-PCR. All other investigations returned normal including blood tests, chest X-ray, MRI brain and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. She remained systemically well, and there was complete resolution of the abducens palsy and diplopia at two week follow up. In the absence of an alternative underlying cause or risk factors identified, the aetiology was presumed to be microvascular and potentially related to the viral infection. We add to the evolving literature of neuro-ophthalmological associations of SARS-CoV-2, discuss possible causal mechanisms and suggest considering asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in cases of isolated abducens palsy without clear risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-67
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Abducens Nerve Diseases/diagnostic imaging
  • Adult
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • COVID-19/complications
  • Diplopia/diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification


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