Cranial Nerves. The cranial nerve examination is important for determining symmetry in general. Asymmetrical findings indicate a pathological process. The eye examination is the most important part of the cranial nerve examination. Gaze impersistence, an inability to maintain conjugate deviation of the eyes, may be seen in the side opposite a frontal lesion. Small pupils may suggest narcotic use. Anticholinergic overdose may cause large pupils. A left-sided field cut or cortical blindness may be associated with a mass or infarct and in addition will be associated with a denial of illness. A bitemporal field cut indicates a chiasmal lesion, which can occur in a patient with a pituitary tumor in the presence of emotional abnormalities. A superior quadrantanopia may accompany temporal lobe tumors or other disorders. Fundi can reveal papilledema or emboli, pointing to systemic disease. A Foster Kennedy syndrome, associated with a frontal meningioma, may present with behavioral changes, ipsilateral optic atrophy, and contralateral papilledema. Smell should also be tested in patients with behavioral abnormalities because it may be abnormal when orbital-frontal pathology is present.
Motor/Reflexes/Cerebellar/Gait. The motor examination may reveal several signs relevant to the assessment of mood and thought. Any abnormality such as a hemiparesis indicates an organic disorder. The finding of myoclonus or asterixis generally indicates a metabolic or toxic disorder and occurs only rarely with focal lesions. Tremor at rest is seen with neuroleptic drug use or Parkinson's disease, and these should be considered. Rigidity and akinesia should also be assessed; they may accompany catatonia, neuroleptic use, or any parkinsonian syndrome. Catatonic akinesia may include waxy flexibility and abnormal sustained postures including one limb being stretched out for extended periods. Adventitious movements such as chorea may be seen and usually indicate tardive dyskinesia following chronic exposure to dopamine-blocking drugs. Alternative explanations include dyskinesias in the presence of psychosis in Pd, Huntington's disease, Sydenham's chorea, or systemic lupus erythematosus. Stereotypic movements such as clapping, tapping, and rubbing may suggest autism or mental retardation or may be seen with schizophrenia. Deep tendon reflexes may be accentuated during stress or anxiety. A few beats of clonus at the ankles may be acceptable in these settings. A Babinski's sign, asymmetrical reflexes, or spastic tone should always suggest an organic process. "Frontal release" or "primitive" reflexes may occur as a normal finding, but these are commonly seen in patients with disorders of frontal lobe deterioration. The grasp reflex is normal in young children only and is always pathological in adults. Hoffman's sign and the palmomental reflex are common in the normal elderly, and their appearance can be interpreted as abnormal only if multiple frontal release signs are present or if their appearance is asymmetrical.
Sensory. The sensory examination is the most subjective part of the evaluation and can be difficult to interpret. The presence of a sensory abnormality triggers the same differential diagnosis as that used for a mentally normal person. It is important to test vibratory and position sensations in a patient with a mood or thought disorder. A sensory neuropathy should lead the clinician to assess nutritional problems (vitamin B 12 deficiency), infections (human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] and syphilis), hypothyroidism, or malignancy. The gait should also be checked. An
obviously factitious gait may cast doubt on the organicity of an unexplained mood, emotion, or thought abnormality encountered during other parts of the examination. However, gait ataxia and mood disorders may occur in the context of alcoholism and multiple sclerosis, and more rarely with hypothyroidism.
Autonomic Nervous System. The clinician should look for evidence of autonomic hyperactivity including the presence of palpitations, cold clammy extremities, sweating, sighing, trembling, or hypervigilance, which can be indicative of anxiety disorders, anxiety associated with neurological diseases, or drug withdrawal syndromes.
Neurovascular Examination. The neurovascular examination is rarely helpful in patients with mood, emotion, or thought disorders. Associated Medical Findings
Assessment of vital signs, preferably performed prior to administration of medications, is very important. Fever should always be construed as a sign of organic disease and should trigger consideration of a spinal tap. In a patient taking a neuroleptic, fever may accompany the neuroleptic malignant syndrome and may warrant consideration of this diagnosis. Once the vital signs are known, the general physical examination should be performed with the aim of identifying contributory factors to a behavior disorder. The general appearance may reveal obesity or cachexia. Central obesity and hirsutism suggest endocrine derangements, whereas hair loss may indicate lupus, thyroid disease, or simply an unrelated skin condition. Weight loss may be evident by excessive skin folds or a cachectic appearance and may accompany depressive syndromes. Changes in skin color may suggest endocrine disorders or a neurocutaneous syndrome. Evaluation of the head may reveal evidence of trauma or gingival hyperplasia, indicative most likely of chronic phenytoin use or proptosis from hypothyroidism. Heart auscultation may reveal murmurs of valvular disease. Both lupus and rheumatic fever may affect the heart valves and can cause a variety of neuropsychiatric syndromes. Subacute bacterial endocarditis, a chronic illness, may present with an abnormal mental state such as depression and mild dementia. Tachycardia may be observed in patients with anxiety and manic disorders. Abdominal examination may reveal evidence of liver disease. The extremities should be evaluated for intravenous track marks, the stigmata of the drug abuser.
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