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Clinical examination

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The clinical examination of the hypoglossal nerve involves inspecting the tongue:

  • look for wasting and fasciculations indicative of a lower motor neurone lesion

Ask the patient to poke out his tongue:

  • if there is a unilateral upper or lower motor neurone lesion then the tongue will deviate towards the side of the lesion - the weaker side

Note, also:

  • if there is an upper motor neurone lesion then this is usually bilateral - it will result in a small, immobile tongue
  • bilateral lower motor neurone lesion will result in:
    • a weak and wasted tongue
    • fasciculations
    • dysarthria

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The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


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