Navigate Up

Orthopaedics Center - A-Z Index

#
I
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Cranial mononeuropathy VI

Cranial mononeuropathy VI is a nerve disorder. It affects the function of the sixth cranial nerve. As a result, the person may have double vision.

Alternative Names

Abducens paralysis; Abducens palsy; Lateral rectus palsy; Vith nerve palsy; Cranial nerve VI palsy

Causes

Cranial mononeuropathy VI is damage to the sixth cranial (skull) nerve. This nerve, also called the abducens nerve, helps you move your eye sideways toward your temple.

Disorders of this nerve can occur with:

  • Brain aneurysms
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Gradenigo syndrome (which also causes discharge from the ear and eye pain)
  • Increased or decreased pressure in the skull
  • Infections (such as meningitis or sinusitis )
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Stroke
  • Trauma (caused by head injury or accidentally during surgery)
  • Tumors around or behind the eye

In some people, there is no clear cause.

Because there are common nerve pathways through the skull, the same disorder that damages the sixth cranial nerve may affect other cranial nerves (such as the third or fourth cranial nerve).

Symptoms

When the sixth cranial nerve does not work properly, you cannot turn your eye outwards toward your ear. You can still move your eye up, down, and toward the nose, unless other nerves are affected.

Symptoms may include:

  • Double vision when looking to one side
  • Headaches
  • Pain around the eye

Exams and Tests

Tests typically show that one eye has trouble looking to the side, while the other eye moves normally. An examination shows the eyes do not line up either at rest or when looking in the direction of the weak eye.

Your health care provider will do a complete examination to determine the possible effect on other parts of the nervous system. Depending on the suspected cause, you may need:

You may need to be referred to a doctor who specializes in vision problems related to the nervous system (neuro-ophthalmologist).

Treatment

If your health care provider diagnoses swelling or inflammation of, or around the nerve, medications called corticosteroids may be used.

Sometimes, the condition disappears without treatment. People with diabetes may benefit from close control of blood sugar levels .

Until the nerve heals, wearing an eye patch relieves double vision.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Treating the cause may improve the condition. Most people in whom no cause is found recover completely.

Possible Complications

Complications may include permanent vision changes.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have double vision.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent this condition. Persons with diabetes may reduce the risk by controlling their blood sugar.

References

Rucker JC. Cranial neuropathies. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 70.

Updated: 5/20/2014

Joseph V. Campellone, M.D., Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com