Neurosyphilis presenting as schizophrenialike psychosis.


Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-4283, USA.



The authors present a 30-year-old pregnant and previously healthy woman with sudden onset of agitation, delusions, and frontal lobe dementia. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid findings revealed the presence of untreated syphilis.


Neurosyphilis can present a variety of behavioral symptoms, including mania, depression, and psychosis.


A neuropsychiatric and neurologic workup was performed before the start of antibiotic treatment. The status of the patient was observed throughout the course of her hospital stay for 7 months. Additionally, a neuropsychological evaluation was administered before treatment, and 2 weeks and 4 months after treatment.


After treatment of neurosyphilis, steady improvements were noted in psychotic and cognitive symptoms. By the end of 7 months, and after discontinuation of antipsychotic medication, no psychiatric symptoms were evident.


This case emphasizes the importance of considering neurosyphilis in the differential diagnosis of acute psychosis. Furthermore, this case shows the dramatic improvement in psychiatric symptoms and cognitive dysfunction in response to the treatment of neurosyphilis.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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