Acute cerebellitis in varicella: A ten year case series and systematic review of the literature

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Background: Acute cerebellitis (AC) is the most common neurological complication of varicella. Nevertheless, it has been scarcely studied. The objective of this study were to asses the occurrence of AC among children hospitalized for varicella and to analyze its specific clinical picture and outcome. Methods. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children admitted to the hospital for varicella between 1st October 2003 and 1st June 2013 and we compared our results with literature. Children were all unvaccinated for varicella. Results: In our case series, AC was found out in 48 out of 457 patients (10.5%). The highest frequency of AC was observed in children from 1 to 5 years of age (60.9%). The most characteristic symptom of AC was a broad-based gait disturbance that progressed gradually over the course of a few days (95.8%). Other common symptoms included slurred speech (37.5%), vomiting (31.25%), headache (29.16%), dysmetry (25%) and tremor (22.91%). After a long hospitalization (median of 11 days), all but one children were dismissed without invalidating sequelae. Conclusions: Data from this study may help to better address the problem of varicella cerebellar complications in hospitalized children and to monitor changes over time caused by an increase in vaccination coverage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 19 2014


  • Cerebellitis
  • Children
  • Varicella

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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