Jump to navigation Jump to search

For patient information, click here

Meningitis, One Year Old Child
ICD-9 781.0
DiseasesDB 31293

WikiDoc Resources for Opisthotonus


Most recent articles on Opisthotonus

Most cited articles on Opisthotonus

Review articles on Opisthotonus

Articles on Opisthotonus in N Eng J Med, Lancet, BMJ


Powerpoint slides on Opisthotonus

Images of Opisthotonus

Photos of Opisthotonus

Podcasts & MP3s on Opisthotonus

Videos on Opisthotonus

Evidence Based Medicine

Cochrane Collaboration on Opisthotonus

Bandolier on Opisthotonus

TRIP on Opisthotonus

Clinical Trials

Ongoing Trials on Opisthotonus at Clinical Trials.gov

Trial results on Opisthotonus

Clinical Trials on Opisthotonus at Google

Guidelines / Policies / Govt

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse on Opisthotonus

NICE Guidance on Opisthotonus


FDA on Opisthotonus

CDC on Opisthotonus


Books on Opisthotonus


Opisthotonus in the news

Be alerted to news on Opisthotonus

News trends on Opisthotonus


Blogs on Opisthotonus


Definitions of Opisthotonus

Patient Resources / Community

Patient resources on Opisthotonus

Discussion groups on Opisthotonus

Patient Handouts on Opisthotonus

Directions to Hospitals Treating Opisthotonus

Risk calculators and risk factors for Opisthotonus

Healthcare Provider Resources

Symptoms of Opisthotonus

Causes & Risk Factors for Opisthotonus

Diagnostic studies for Opisthotonus

Treatment of Opisthotonus

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

CME Programs on Opisthotonus


Opisthotonus en Espanol

Opisthotonus en Francais


Opisthotonus in the Marketplace

Patents on Opisthotonus

Experimental / Informatics

List of terms related to Opisthotonus

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2]


Opisthotonus or opisthotonos, from Greek roots, opistho meaning "behind" and tonos meaning "tension", is a state of a severe hyperextension and spasticity in which an individual's head, neck and spinal column enter into a complete "bridging" or "arching" position. This abnormal posturing is an extrapyramidal effect and is caused by spasm of the axial muscles along the spinal column. It is seen in some cases of severe cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury or as a result of the severe muscular spasms associated with tetanus.


Opisthotonus can be produced experimentally in animals by transection of the midbrain (between superior and inferior colliculus) which results in severing all the corticoreticular fibers. Hyperextension occurs because facilitation of anterior reticulospinal tract due to removal of inhibitory corticoreticular fibers to the pons reticular formation.

Opisthotonus is more pronounced in infants. Opisthotonus in the neonate may be a symptom of meningitis or tetanus. This marked extensor tone can cause infants to "rear backwards" and stiffen out as the mother or nurse attempts to hold or feed them. Opisthotonus can be induced by any attempt at movement such as smiling, feeding, vocalization, or by seizure activity. Individuals with opisthotonus are quite challenging to position, especially in wheelchairs and car seats.

It can some times be a side effect of anti-psychotic medication or mood stabilizer, i.e. lithium intoxication.

Differential Diagnosis of Causes of Opisthotonus

In alphabetical order. [1] [2]

Physical examination findings

Image courtesy of Professor Peter Anderson DVM PhD and published with permission © PEIR, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Pathology

External links

Template:WikiDoc Sources

  1. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  2. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X