Dropped head syndrome in mitochondriopathy


In a 63-year-old, 165-cm-tall woman with a history of repeated tick bites, dilative cardiomyopathy, osteoporosis, progressive head ptosis with neck stiffness and cervical pain developed. The family history was positive for thyroid dysfunction and neuromuscular disorders. Neurological examination revealed prominent forward head drop, weak anteflexion and retroflexion, nuchal rigidity, weakness of the shoulder girdle, cogwheel rigidity, and tetraspasticity. The lactate stress test was abnormal. Electromyograms of various muscles were myogenic. Muscle biopsy showed non-specific myogenic abnormalities and generally weak staining for cytochrome oxydase. Mitochondriopathy with multi-organ involvement was suspected. The response to anti-Parkinson medication was poor. In conclusion, dropped head syndrome (DHS) may be due to multi-organ mitochondriopathy, manifesting as Parkinsonism, tetraspasticity, dilative cardiomyopathy, osteoporosis, short stature, and myopathy. Anti-Parkinson medication is of limited effect.

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Correspondence to J. Finsterer.

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Finsterer, J. Dropped head syndrome in mitochondriopathy. Eur Spine J 13, 652–656 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-003-0630-z

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  • Mitochondriopathy
  • Neck muscles
  • Myopathy
  • Anterocollis