CNS Drugs

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 1139–1153 | Cite as

Drug-Induced Cerebellar Ataxia: A Systematic Review

  • J. van Gaalen
  • F. G. Kerstens
  • R. P. P. W. M. Maas
  • L. Härmark
  • B. P. C. van de WarrenburgEmail author
Systematic Review


Background and Objectives

Cerebellar ataxia can be induced by a large number of drugs. We here conducted a systemic review of the drugs that can lead to cerebellar ataxia as an adverse drug reaction (ADR).


We performed a systematic literature search in Pubmed (1966 to January 2014) and EMBASE (1988 to January 2014) to identify all of the drugs that can have ataxia as an ADR and to assess the frequency of drug-induced ataxia for individual drugs. Furthermore, we collected reports of drug-induced ataxia over the past 20 years in the Netherlands by querying a national register of ADRs.


Drug-induced ataxia was reported in association with 93 individual drugs (57 from the literature, 36 from the Dutch registry). The most common groups were antiepileptic drugs, benzodiazepines, and antineoplastics. For some, the number needed to harm was below 10. Ataxia was commonly reversible, but persistent symptoms were described with lithium and certain antineoplastics.


It is important to be aware of the possibility that ataxia might be drug-induced, and for some drugs the relative frequency of this particular ADR is high. In most patients, symptoms occur within days or weeks after the introduction of a new drug or an increase in dose. In general, ataxia tends to disappear after discontinuation of the drug, but chronic ataxia has been described for some drugs.


Antiepileptic Drug Cerebellar Ataxia Zonisamide Lacosamide Retigabine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No funding was received for conducting or publishing this review.

Conflict of interest

BvdW is supported by grants from the Royal Dutch Society for Physical Therapy, Radboud University Medical Centre, Gossweiler Foundation, Wetenschapsfonds Dystonievereniging, and Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-NL).

JvG is supported by the Gossweiler Foundation.

FK reports no supporting grants.

RM reports no supporting grants.

LH reports no supporting grants.

Supplementary material

40263_2014_200_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)
40263_2014_200_MOESM2_ESM.docx (309 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 310 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. van Gaalen
    • 1
  • F. G. Kerstens
    • 1
  • R. P. P. W. M. Maas
    • 1
  • L. Härmark
    • 2
  • B. P. C. van de Warrenburg
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Neurology 935 and Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and BehaviourRadboud University Medical CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb’s-HertogenboschThe Netherlands

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