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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bilateral Cranial Nerve VI Palsies in Cryptococcal Meningitis, HIV, and Syphilis: A Case Report


Introduction: Cranial nerve (CN) VI palsy is a common complaint seen in the emergency department (ED) and has a wide range of causes. Bilateral CN VI palsies are uncommon and appear to be associated with more severe complications.

Case Report: A 29-year-old male presented to the ED from an ophthalmology office for diplopia, headache, and strabismus. He was found to have bilateral CN VI palsies and new-onset seizure in the ED. A lumbar puncture revealed cryptococcal meningitis. Additional tests revealed a new diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and syphilis.

Conclusion: Cryptococcal meningitis remains a life-threatening complication of HIV/AIDS. Coinfections with HIV, particularly syphilis, further complicate a patient’s prognosis as both can lead to devastating neurological sequelae. In cryptococcal meningitis, elevated intracranial pressure is a complication that can manifest as seizures, altered mental status, and cranial nerve palsies.

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