Purpose of review
This paper reviews the recent literature concerning Tourette syndrome and related disorders.
Tourette syndrome is a common disorder in children and adolescents, with an established association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a number of other psychiatric disorders. Both autoimmune and genetic mechanisms are implicated in the pathophysiology of the syndrome, while neuroimaging studies have identified abnormalities in the composition of the basal ganglia and frontal lobe white matter, as well as alterations in dopaminergic activity. When necessary, treatment of tics can be successful with neuroleptics and α-2-adrenergic agonists. The use of stimulants in children with Tourette syndrome and comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not appear to worsen tics.
As a result of the recent literature, clinicians can feel comfortable treating children with co-morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome with stimulant medications. It has also been established that transient tics are very common in children, and for the most part, non-disabling. In those children with persistent tics, behavioural disorders are associated which may impair success in school and psychosocial functioning. Clinicians have a number of therapeutic options, with recent double-blinded randomized trials of clonidine, risperidone, and desipramine showing benefit. Scientists continue to search for the cause of Tourette syndrome.