Tourette's syndrome

Last edited 11/2022 and last reviewed 11/2022

Originally described in 1885, Tourette's syndrome (TS) or Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome is a childhood disease characterized by a combination of at least two motor tics and one vocal tic that is chronic (more than 1 year) in nature (1)

Tourette's syndrome is the association of:

  • motor tics, such as:
    • eye blinking
    • throat clearing
    • sniffing
    • arm thrusting
    • kicking
    • shoulder shrugging
  • involuntary vocalisations:
    • may be obscene (coprolalia)

Patients commonly show psychological psychiatric co-morbidity:

  • studies conducted at specialist clinics have revealed that pure Tourette's syndrome (without any associated psychiatric morbidity) was observed in only 10 % of the patients
  •  associated behavioural spectrum of Tourette's syndrome plus  includes:
    • most common
      • obsessive compulsive disorder
      • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
      • impulsiveness
    • other conditions
      • depression
      • impulse control disorders in adults (1,2)

The underlying pathophysiology of Tourette syndrome is not fully understood (3).