Case of the month: May 1998 - A patient with HIV infection and multiple cranial neuritis
A 36-year old male with a three year history of HIV infection and more recently, CMV retinitis, had several episodes of polyradiculitis with severe bilateral leg pain and urinary retention which resolved slowly over several months. He then presented with high fevers and severe dysphagia with dehydration. Examination showed oral thrush, dyarthric speech and mild memory impairment. Fundoscopic exam showed CMV retinitis and HIV retinopathy. Further examination revealed other cranial nerve signs and leg weakness. MRI scans showed several contrast enhancing abnormalities of cranial nerve roots. The patient died from massive barium aspiration. At autopsy the brain showed multiple CMV cranial neuritis, CMV polyradiculitis and CMV ventriculo-ependymitis. While spinal nerve root involvement by CMV may occur in up to 1% of AIDS patients, involvement of cranial nerves is unusual and CMV infection of multiple cranial nerves is distinctly rare.