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Bilateral optic disc swelling resulting from lymphocytic meningitis and posterior uveitis secondary to syphilis
  1. Sunil James and
  2. Karunakaran Pradeep Thozhuthumparambil
  1. Acute Medical Unit, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sunil James; sunil.james1{at}


Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is being diagnosed more often in the UK due to the rise in obesity. In fact, patients who present with bilateral optic disc swelling are habitually put on the papilloedema pathway, often without consideration of other diagnoses. We report the case of a middle-aged woman diagnosed with papilloedema and managed as IIH, until, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis revealed evidence of lymphocytic meningitis secondary to syphilis. The patient was treated successfully with intravenous antibiotics. Syphilis is the great masquerader and should be a diagnosis to consider in patients who have CSF findings incongruent with their clinical presentation.

  • eye
  • meningitis
  • coma and raised intracranial pressure
  • cranial nerves
  • infection (neurology)

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  • Contributors SJ: drafted the manuscript. KPT: edited and revised the manuscript. SJ and KPT approved final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.