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Benign recurrent sixth (abducens) nerve palsies in children
  1. N R Mahoney1,
  2. G T Liu2,3
  1. 1
    Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2
    Neuro-ophthalmology Service, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3
    Division of Neuro-ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Dr Nicholas R Mahoney, Scheie Eye Institute, 51 North 39th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; nicholas.mahoney{at}


Sixth nerve palsy can occur as a result of elevated intracranial pressure, neoplasm or trauma. Reports from tertiary centres indicate that between 5% and 16% of referred cases have no ascribed aetiology and are classified as benign. Rarely, these benign palsies can recur. A retrospective chart review of a cohort of 253 paediatric patients with sixth nerve palsies was analysed and uncovered 30 cases of benign sixth nerve palsy, nine of which recurred. Our data and review of other studies on the subject imply that a new onset sixth nerve palsy presenting in children can be benign in approximately 13% of cases, so a thorough history and physical examination to evaluate for any other neurological symptoms or signs followed by MRI of the brain with and without contrast is recommended.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: None.

  • Ethics approval: Institutional review board approval was obtained.