The phenomenon of Lhermitte

Life in pedants’ corner is (and was BC—before the COVID-19 pandemic) always more rewarding when clinical and scientific morsels from our recent reading can be shared over coffee (black and strong of course!). For the pedant, malapropisms, particularly those penned by eminent neurologists in certain highly regarded journals, are a particularly rich seam; the deeper one has to mine, the greater the pleasure. Recently, at least one of our number all but aspirated their coffee after reading a reference to ‘Lhermitte’s sign’ in an article on dorsal root ganglionopathy!

Jean Lhermitte (figure 1) described only one clinical sign, or more correctly a collection of inseparable signs. Known as ‘Lhermitte’s syndrome’, it describes the clinical manifestations of a lesion to the medial longitudinal fasciculus, for which Lhermitte coined the term ‘internuclear ophthalmoplegia’.1 Internuclear ophthalmoplegia is not a recognised feature of dorsal root ganglionopathy and thus, whether malapropism or…

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