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Alternative NamesSt. Vitus dance
Definition Return to top
Sydenham chorea is a movement disorder that occurs with rheumatic fever.
Causes Return to top
Sydenham chorea is one of the major signs of acute rheumatic fever. It is discussed here separately because it may be the only sign of rheumatic fever in some patients.
Sydenham chorea occurs most often in girls before puberty, but may be seen in boys.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
There may be a history of sore throat for several weeks before Sydenham chorea.
Blood tests that may show signs of rheumatic fever include erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).
Different blood tests may be done to identify whether the child may have a strep infection.
Treatment Return to top
Antibiotics are given against streptococci, the bacteria that cause rheumatic fever. The health care provider may prescribe preventive antibiotics (antibiotic prophylaxis).
Supportive care is given as necessary to control symptoms of Sydenham chorea, especially the constant movements. Sedation may be advised in severe cases.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Sydenham chorea usually clears up in a few months. In rare cases, an unusual form of Sydenham chorea may begin later in life.
Possible Complications Return to top
No complications are expected.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your child develops uncontrollable or jerky movements, especially if the child has recently had a sore throat.
Prevention Return to top
Pay careful attention to children's complaints of sore throats and get early treatment to prevent acute rheumatic fever. If there is a strong family history of rheumatic fever, be especially watchful, because your children may be more likely to develop this infection.
References Return to top
Gerber MA. Group A streptococcus. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 182.Update Date: 9/22/2008 Updated by: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.