Konzo (Eeg-Eedebol-Olofsson): Some research projects have been performed far
away from the laboratory. Konzo is a subacute spastic para/tetraparesis affecting
patients in central Africa and is related to intake of bitter cassava. In
1997, two patients with spastic paraparesis were brought to Uppsala. No response
was obtained with magnetic cortical stimulation in clinically normal arm muscles
with normal strength. This needed further studies.
In the years of 1998 and 2000, equipment for neurophysiological investigations
was brought to Kinshasa, Kongo, to study patients with Konzo. The EEG showed
an abnorm slowing of the background activity and SEP studies revealed prolonged
latencies of the cortical responses. Motor responses evoked by cortical stimulation
had prolonged latencies as well. Small motor unit potentials were found with
EMG and the muscle biopsies described atrophic muscle fibers, however nerve
conduction studies were normal.