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Olivopontocerebellar atrophy

  • Alternative Names

    OPCA; Olivopontocerebellar degeneration; Multiple system atrophy – cerebellar predominance; MSA-C


    Symptoms tend to start sooner at a younger age in people with the inherited form. The main symptom is clumsiness (ataxia) that slowly gets worse. There may also be problems with balance, slurring of speech, and difficulty walking.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Abnormal eye movements
    • Abnormal movements
    • Bowel or bladder problems
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Lightheadedness when standing
    • Muscle spasms
    • Muscle stiffness or rigidity
    • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
    • Tremor
    • Sexual function problems

    Signs and tests

    A thorough medical and neurological examination, as well as a symptom and family history, are needed to make the diagnosis.

    There are no specific tests for this condition. An MRI of the brain may show changes in the size of affected brain structures, especially as the disease gets worse. This is helpful in making the diagnosis, but does not necessarily rule out the condition.

    Other tests may be done to rule out other conditions. This may include swallowing studies to see if a person can safely swallow food and liquid.