Jean Lhermitte

Jacques Jean Lhermitte (1877 - 1959)

Jean-Jacques Lhermitte (1877-1959) was a French neurologist and neuropsychiatrist.

Lhermitte coined the term internuclear ophthalmoplegia (sometimes known as Lhermitte syndrome)

He made significant contributions to the study of narcolepsy, encephalitis lethargica, neuropathies, Huntington disease, and the phantom limb phenomenon

first described peduncular hallucinosis [red nucleus hallucinatory syndrome] in 1922

  • Born 20 January 1877 in Mont Saint-Père, France
  • Died 24 January 1959

Medical Eponyms

Lejonne-Lhermitte disease (1909): [aka olivo-rubro-cerebellar atrophy] adult onset, characterized by atrophy and gliosis of the olives, cerebellar cortex, dentate nucleus, and both superior and inferior cerebellar peduncles

Lhermitte-Cornil-Quesnel syndrome (1920): [aka progressive pyramidopallidal degeneration] syndrome of slowly progressive pyramidopallidal degeneration, manifest as pathological emotionality (involuntary crying and laughing), generalized muscle rigidity, pseudobulbar palsy, and chorea. Pathologically, there is cell loss in the basal ganglia and dentate nucleus with calcium deposition

Lhermitte-Duclos disease (1920): [aka granular cell hypertrophy, dysplastic gangliocytoma of the cerebellum, Cowden disease] primary degeneration of the granular layer of the cerebellum; dominantly inherited hamartomatous condition. Characterized by hypertrophy of the ganglion cells in the granular and molecular layers and excessive myelination of axons in the molecular layer.

Lhermitte sign (1924, 1927): [aka barber’s chair sign] symptom, comprising the sensation of an electric shock or paraesthesia that shoots down the neck and/or into the limbs when the neck is flexed or on coughing. Initially described by Babinski, Lhermitte regarded the sign as diagnostic of multiple sclerosis. However, any cervical cord lesion, intrinsic or extrinsic, and vitamin B12 deficiency is capable of inducing it. One of the patients described in Lhermitte’s 1924 publication gave the following description

Lorsque je baissais la tête, je ressentais une secousse violente dans la nuque et une douleur ressemblant à celle que produit un courant électrique me parcourait tout le corps, depuis la nuque jusqu’aux pieds, en suivant la colonne vertébrale.

Lhermitte 1924

When I bent my head, I felt a violent shock in the neck and a pain like an electric current running through the whole body, from the neck down the vertebral column into the feet

Lhermitte 1924

Lhermitte-McAlpine syndrome (1926): combined pyramidal and extrapyramidal tract syndrome. Gradual adult onset with slow progression, characterized by parkinsonism and choreic movements of the face and bulbar muscles with pseudobulbar and pyramidal signs, and marked hypertonia. Pathological examination shows lesions in the putamen, globus pallidus, and pyramidal tracts.

Lhermitte syndrome (1922): [aka peduncular hallucinosis, red nucleus hallucinatory syndrome] Lhermitte described a 72 year-old female who experienced bizarre visual hallucinations associated with clinical signs suggesting focal midbrain and pontine involvement. Ludo van Bogaert (1897-1989) described similar features in a 59-year-old female and proposed to use the term “l’hallucinose pédonculaire” (peduncular hallucinosis) to describe the phenomenon.

Lhermitte-Lévy syndrome (1931): slowly progressing paralysis following a stroke, with incessant choreiform movements of arms and legs (rhythmic trembling), and visual and auditory hallucinations.

Lhermitte syndrome: [internuclear ophthalomoplegia, Roth-Bielschowsky syndrome] term INO introduced by Lhermitte to describe the clinical phenomenon of horizontal jerk nystagmus in the abducting eye and impaired adduction of the other eye on lateral gaze, the lesion being in the medial longitudinal fasciculus on the side of the adduction failure.

Major Publications


Name: Jean; Jean-Jaques; Jaques-Jean



BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.