PANCE Blueprint Neurology (6%)

PANCE Blueprint Neurology (6%)

PANCE Blueprint Neurology (6%)

Follow along with the NCCPA™ PANCE and PANRE Neurology Content Blueprint

  • 35 PANCE and PANRE Neurology Content Blueprint Lessons (see below)
  • 84 Question Comprehensive Neurology Exam
  • Neurology Pearls Flashcards
  • Neurology Pearls high yield summary tables
  • ReelDX™ integrated video content (available to paid subscribers)


  1. Neurology Flashcards (Members Only)

  2. Neurology Comprehensive Exam (Members Only)

  3. Diseases of Peripheral Nerves (PEARLS)

    1. Complex regional pain syndrome

      Non-dermatomal limb pain usually following a trauma or surgery. Upper or lower limbs pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, skin changes, and bone demineralization
      • Pain is disproportionate to the injury with continuing pain that is disproportionate to any inciting event
      • Sensory: hyperalgesia and/or allodynia
      • Vasomotor: skin, temperature, color asymmetry
      • Sudomotor/edema: edema, sweating changes, or sweating asymmetry
      • Motor/trophic: decreased range of motion or motor dysfunction and/or trophic changes (hair, nail, skin)
    2. Peripheral neuropathies

      Symmetric distal sensory loss along with burning pain or weakness
      • Slow onset in stocking glove (hands and feet) pattern think Diabetes mellitus, uremia
      • Fast onset think drugs
      • Ascending think Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  4. Headaches (PEARLS)

    1. Brian Wallace PA-C Podcast: Headaches

    2. Cluster headache

      Severe, unilateral, periorbital pain, lacrimation, and nasal congestion
      • More common in men (4:1). Treatment: 100% oxygen
    3. Migraine (ReelDx)

      Unilateral (70%), throbbing, disabling pain, nausea, vomiting, photophobia
      • Classic: Aura and Common: No aura (80% of migraines)
      • Abortive: Triptans (do not use in ischemic heart disease), ergotamine (do not use in pregnant women)
    4. Tension headache (ReelDx)

      Bilateral, non-throbbing, band-like or "vice like" pain
      • A tension-type headache is typically described as bilateral, mild to moderate, dull pain, whereas a migraine is typically pulsating; unilateral; and associated with nausea, vomiting, and photophobia or phonophobia.
      • Treatment: NSAIDs, Excedrin, muscle relaxer
  5. Infectious Neurologic Disorders (PEARLS)

    1. Encephalitis

      May present similar to meningitis but will see altered mental statusseizures, personality changes, exanthema. Encephalitis is clinically differentiated from meningitis by altered brain functioning.
      • Usually viral: Most common species: HSV or Immunocompromised: CMV
    2. Meningitis (ReelDx)

      Classic Triad: Fever, headache, stiff neck, petechiae (especially N. meningitidis)
      • Kernig's sign: knee extension causes pain in neck (Remember K = Kernig's and K = Knee)
      • Brudzinski's sign: leg raise when bend neck
      • CSF Finding: 
        • Bacterial: ↑ Protein ↓ Glucose (bacteria love to eat glucose)
          • there is a markedly increased opening pressure
        • Viral:  normal pressure, increased WBC (lymphocytes)
  6. Movement Disorders (PEARLS)

    1. Essential tremor

      Bilateral intention tremor of the hands, forearm, and/or head without resting component
      • Family history in 50-70% of patients, autosomal dominant inheritance. Elderly patients
      • Worse on intention. Hands and head.
      • Better with alcohol
      • Less likely to be unilateral
    2. Huntington Disease

      Inherited autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor and psychiatric dysfunction, dementia, and chorea (nonrepeating, complex, involuntary rhythmic movements that may appear purposeful)
      • Genetic testing: 40+ CAG repeats
    3. Parkinson disease

      Resting/pill rolling tremor, masked facies,  cogwheel (catching and releasing), bradykinesia, and shuffling gait
      • Decreased dopamine in substantia nigra. Lewy bodies.
  7. Vascular Disorders (PEARLS)

    1. Cerebral aneurysm

    2. Intracranial hemorrhage (ReelDx)

      • Epidural Hematoma:  transient loss of consciousness from an injury, period of lucency, then neurologic deterioration. CT: lens-shaped, biconvex
      • Subdural Hematoma: elderly patient with a history of multiple falls who is now presenting with neurological symptom. May be chronic, taking days to weeks to develop symptoms. CT scan: Crescent shaped density in the brain
      • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: "explosive thunderclap" headache described as "the worst headache ever." Aneurysm or AVM rupture.
    3. Stroke (ReelDx)

    4. Transient ischemic attack

  8. Other Neurologic Disorders (PEARLS)

    1. Altered level of consciousness (ReelDx)

      1. Eye opening:
      • 4- spontaneous
      • 3- voice
      •  2-pain
      • 1-none
      2. Verbal:
      • 5-oriented
      • 4-confused
      • 3-inappropriate words
      • 2-incomprehensible
      • 1-none
      3. Motor:
      • 6-obeys commands
      • 5-localizes pain
      • 4-withdraws
      • 3-abnormal flexion (decorticate)
      • 2-abnormal extension (decerebrate)
      • 1-none
      • Maximum score is 15 which has the best prognosis
      • Minimum score is 3 which has the worst prognosis
      • Less than 9 is a coma
    2. Cerebral palsy (ReelDx)

      Prenatal injury perinatal hypoxia or ischemia, preterm baby
      • Hyperreflexia, rigidity, intellectual impairment, seizures
    3. Concussion (ReelDx)

      Grade 1: No LOC, post traumatic amnesia and other symptoms resolve in < 30 minutes
      • Athlete may return to sports if asymptomatic for one week
      Grade 2: + LOC , 1 minute or post-traumatic amnesia and other symptoms last > 30 minutes but < 1 week
      • Athlete may return to sports in 2 weeks if asymptomatic at rest and exertion for at least 7 days
      Grade 3: + LOC > 1 minute or post-traumatic amnesia and other symptoms last > 1 week
      • Athlete may return to sports in 1 month if asymptomatic at rest and exertion for 7 days
      Repeat concussions: if associated with either loss of consciousness or symptoms for more than 15 minutes may NOT to return to play sports for that season
    4. Dementias

      • Alzheimer's disease Most common. Definitive diagnosis on autopsy - beta amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Abnormal clock drawing test. Treat with Anticholinesterase drugs (Tacrine, Donepezil)
      • Vascular dementia (2nd most common type): Correlated with a cerebrovascular event and/or cerebrovascular disease. Stepwise deterioration with periods of clinical plateaus.
      • Lewy body dementia: Fluctuating cognition associated with parkinsonism, hallucinations and delusions, gait difficulties, and falls
      • Frontotemporal dementia: Personality changes precede memory changes.
    5. Delirium

      Acute, fluctuating mental status change caused by a medical condition
      • Delirium is rapid in onset, short term and reversible - Underlying organic cause: UTI, pneumonia, metabolic changes, CVA, MI, TBI, medications (anticholinergics, benzodiazepines, opioids). Treat underlying cause.
    6. Guillain-Barré syndrome

      Symmetrical ascending paralysis beginning in distal limbs, following Campylobacter jejuni infection, will often present after immunization
      • Weakness begins in lower extremities, treatment: admit, plasmapheresis or IVIG
      • Respiratory paralysis if no treatment. Good prognosis
    7. Autoimmune: Antibodies against myelin sheath: Often first finding: Retrobulbar optic neuritis. Other symptoms: numbness, tingling, balance disturbance, diplopia. MRI: Dawson fingers (white matter lesions). CSF: Elevated IgG, oligoclonal bands
      • Relapsing remitting MC 85% (symptoms come and go)
      • Secondary progressive (relapsing remitting progresses to steady decline)
      • Primary progressive (no remission, steady decline from onset)
      • Progressive relapsing (combination. Worse overtime with acute relapses. Most rare.)
    8. Myasthenia gravis (ReelDx)

      Autoimmune attack of acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction results motor problems
      • Young women, older men. weakness in everyday activities like brushing hair, Proximal to distal weakness: eyes: ptosis usually first
      • Diagnose with Acetylcholine receptor antibodies, Tensilon test/edrophonium test- short acting anticholinesterase
    9. Postconcussion syndrome

      Cognitive and/or behavioral manifestations that may be present for a few days to weeks following concussion, including:
      • Chronic headaches, short-term memory difficulties, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, personality changes (irritability, mood swings), and sensitivity to light and noise
      • Postconcussive symptoms typically resolve in a few days to several weeks
    10. Seizure disorders (ReelDx)

      Partial seizures: focal location in the brain affected often temporal lobe, the most common type of seizure in the elderly
      • Simple Partial: Consciousness fully maintained. Abnormal movements or sensations.
        •  Treatment: Carbamazepine
      • Complex Partial: Impaired consciousness lasts over 30 seconds, automatisms (ie. Lip smacking)
        •  Treatment: Carbamazepine
      Generalized seizures: start midbrain or brainstem and spreads to both cortices.
      • Absence seizure (petit mal): Children. Blank stare.
        • Treatment: Valproic acid, ethosuximide (only for absence)
      • Tonic clonic/Generalized convulsive (Grand mal): Loss of consciousness, increased muscle tone (tonic), jerking muscles (clonic).
        •  Postictal phase- confusion after seizure.
        •  Treatment: Valproic acid, carbamazepine
      • Myoclonic: muscle jerking, but not the tonic phase, occurs in the morning
      • Tonic: extreme rigidity then immediate LOC, but not followed by a clonic phase
      • Atonic attack (drop attack): looks like syncope, sudden loss of muscle tone
      Additional types
      • Febrile Seizure: A convulsion associated with an elevated temperature greater than 38°, > 6 mos < 5 years, absence of central nervous system infection or inflammation
        • Febrile seizures that continue for more than five minutes should be treated with IV benzodiazepines (diazepam or lorazepam)
    11. Status epilepticus

      A nonstop seizure lasting greater than 5 minutes. There are two types:
      • Generalized convulsive status epilepticus involves at least one of the following:
        • Tonic-clonic seizure activity lasting > 5 to 10 min.
        • ≥ 2 seizures between which patients do not fully regain consciousness.
      • Nonconvulsive status epilepticus includes complex partial status epilepticus and absence status epilepticus. They often manifest as prolonged episodes of mental status changes. EEG may be required for diagnosis.
    12. Syncope (ReelDx)

      Sudden, brief loss of consciousness (LOC) with loss of postural tone followed by spontaneous revival.
      • The patient is motionless and limp and usually has cool extremities, a weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Sometimes brief involuntary muscle jerks occur, resembling a seizure.
      • Near-syncope is light-headedness and a sense of an impending faint without LOC. It is usually classified and discussed with syncope because the causes are the same.
    13. Tourette disorder (ReelDx)

      The defining feature which separates Tourette syndrome from other tic disorders is the presence of both motor and vocal tics.
      • Symptoms must have been present for > 1 year and age at onset must be < 18 years old.
      • Tic disorders are divided into 3 categories:
        • Tourette syndrome (Gilles de la Tourette syndrome): Both motor and vocal tics have been present for > 1 year.
        • Persistent (chronic) tic disorder: Single or multiple motor or vocal tics (but not both motor and vocal) have been present for > 1 yr.
        • Provisional tic disorder: Single or multiple motor and/or vocal tics have been present < 1 yr.