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The differential diagnosis of chorea
  1. E J Wild1,
  2. S J Tabrizi2,3
  1. 1
    Clinical Research Fellow and Honorary Clinical Assistant
  2. 2
    Reader in Neurology and Neurogenetics
  3. 3
    Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, UCL Institute of Neurology, London/National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London
  1. Dr S J Tabrizi, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK; s.tabrizi{at}


Chorea is a hyperkinetic movement disorder characterised by excessive spontaneous movements that are irregularly timed, randomly distributed and abrupt. In this article, the authors discuss the causes of chorea, particularly Huntington’s disease and the genetic syndromes that may resemble it, including HDL1-3, inherited prion disease, spinocerebellar ataxias 1, 3 and 17, neuroacanthocytosis, dentatorubro-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA), brain iron accumulation disorders, Wilson’s disease, benign hereditary chorea, Friedreich’s ataxia and mitochondrial disease. Acquired causes of chorea include vascular disease, post-infective autoimmune central nervous system disorders (PANDAS), drugs, systemic lupus erythematosus, antiphospholipid syndrome, thyrotoxicosis, AIDS, chorea gravidarum, and polycythaemia rubra vera. The authors suggest an approach to the clinical assessment of chorea, the value of investigations, including genetic tests (for which they offer a structured framework highlighting the importance of prior counselling), and finally briefly discuss symptomatic drug treatment of chorea.

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