Decorticate posture is an abnormal posturing exemplified by rigidity, flexion of the arms, clenched fists, and extended legs. The person holds the arms bent and inward toward the body with the wrists and fingers bent and held on the chest. Presence of this type of posturing implies severe damage to the brain with immediate need for medical attention.
Decorticate posture indicates damage to the corticospinal tract (the pathway between the brain and spinal cord). Although a serious sign, it is usually more favorable than decerebrate posture.
Decorticate posture may progress to decerebrate posture, or the two may alternate. The posturing may occur on one or both sides of the body.
Primary brain tumor
Secondary brain tumor
Increased intracranial pressure from any cause
Conditions associated with decorticate posture require immediate hospital treatment.
Medical history questions documenting decorticate posture in detail may include:
When did this behavior start?
Is there a pattern to the occurrences?
Is it always the same type of posture?
Is there any significant medical history (such as a known head injury)?
What other symptoms preceded or accompanied the abnormal posturing?
Physical examination will include a detailed assessment of the nervous system.
Diagnostic testing may include:
Head MRI or CT scan