Neuroimaging for Isolated Sixth Nerve Cranial Neuropathy

Jeffrey Ma, Nicholas J. Volpe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


An acute neurologically isolated sixth nerve palsy in an adult over age 50 with vasculopathic risk factors is most commonly due to microvascular ischemia. Traditionally, clinical recommendation has been to defer immediate neuroimaging in favor of “watchful waiting” anticipating spontaneous recovery of the ocular motor palsy, as imaging is usually unrevealing. However, this approach may result in a missed or delayed diagnosis of an alternative, potentially (or perceived) life threatening or treatable cause of sixth nerve palsy, such as a space occupying mass or infarction. This chapter reviews the causes of isolated sixth nerve palsy, current guidelines for diagnostic evaluation, and the studies on the yield of neuroimaging for this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuro-Ophthalmology
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Trends in Diagnosis, Treatment and Management
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9783319984551
ISBN (Print)9783319984544
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Abducens nerve palsy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Microvascular ischemia
  • Neuroimaging
  • Ocular motor palsy
  • Sixth nerve palsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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