Opsoclonus Myoclonus

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What is opsoclonus myoclonus?

Opsoclonus myoclonus (OMS), also known as Dancing Eyes-Dancing Feet Syndrome and Kinsbourne syndrome, is a rare disorder that affects the eyes and muscles and causes other disturbances.

In young children, it is most often caused by a tumor that triggers the immune system to mistakenly attack the nervous system, with an onset that can be described as abrupt and severe. In adults, the condition is caused most often in response to lung or breast cancers. It can also occur on its own or following a bacterial or viral infection. OMS is generally not a fatal disorder.

Symptoms include:

  • Opsoclonus (irregular, rapid eye movements)
  • Myoclonus (brief, shock-like muscle spasms) in the arms or legs
  • Unsteady, trembling gait (manner of walking)
  • Ataxia (including difficulty walking and with balance)
  • Tremor of the hand
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Behavioral changes, including rage attacks
  • Lack of coordination
  • Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone)

 Doctors diagnose OMS when the person has three of the four following symptoms:

  • A rare type of cancer that affects the nerve tissue
  • Uncontrolled eye movement
  • Myoclonus and/or ataxia
  • Issues with behavior or sleep disturbance

A blood exam can detect certain antibodies in individuals with OMS.

Treatment includes corticosteroids or the hormone ACTH, intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (in which antibodies from hundreds of donors are pooled together and injected into a person to fight the immune response), and medications to treat other symptoms. Some people recover fully while others continue to display symptoms, and some people with the disorder may have a relapse of neurological symptoms.

Learn About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are studies that allow us to learn more about disorders and improve care. They can help connect patients with new and upcoming treatment options.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with opsoclonus myoclonus?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about OMS and related disorders. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials for people with opsoclonus myoclonus at ClinicalTrials.gov, which provides information about ongoing and completed federal and privately supported clinical trials.

Where can I find more information about opsoclonus myoclonus?

More information may be available through the following resource:

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

Order publications from the NINDS Catalog
The NINDS Publication Catalog offers printed materials on neurological disorders for patients, health professionals, and the general public. All materials are free of charge, and a downloadable PDF version is also available for most publications.