Cerebellar Mutism Syndrome in Children and Adults

Peter Marien, Stefanie Keulen, Kim Maria Van Dun, Jung DE SMET Hyo, Peter De Deyn, Jo Verhoeven, Philippe Paquier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Cerebellar mutism can be considered the hallmark feature of the cerebellar
mutism syndrome (CMS), previously also frequently termed the posterior fossa
syndrome (PFS). The syndrome consists of specific linguistic, cognitive, behavioral, and affective symptoms following acute posterior fossa damage in children and adults. Although the symptoms have been exceptionally associated with non-tumoral etiologies, CMS usually develops after a brief period of relatively normal functioning in the immediate postoperative phase following posterior fossa tumor surgery. The incidence of CMS in the pediatric population is estimated to range between 7% and 50%. Although similar symptoms have been occasionally reported in adults, CMS is typically viewed as a clinical condition affecting children.
An international consensus as to the definition of CMS was recently reached.
However, this accepted definition specifically addresses the pediatric variant of
the syndrome associated with posterior fossa surgery (postoperative pediatric
CMS, POPCMS). In this chapter, the more general term CMS (instead of
POPCMS) will be used to denote similar symptoms also occurring in adults,
and with non-tumoral etiologies.
Although the semiology of CMS has extensively been described, the underlying
pathophysiological mechanisms still remain largely unclear. This chapter
presents a brief overview of the intriguing semiological combination of transient
cerebellar mutism and cognitive, behavioral, and affective alterations following
acute posterior fossa lesions. Furthermore, the most important pathophysiological hypotheses and the proposed therapeutic interventions will be briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Handbook of the Cerebellum and Cerebellar Disorders
EditorsJeremy Schmahmann, Mario Manto, Donna Gruol, Noriyuki Koibuchi, Roy Silitoe
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-97911-3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020


  • Cerebellum
  • Post-operative pediatric cerebellar mutism syndrome


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