Vol 48, No 1 (2014)

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Coprolalia and copropraxia in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome

Magdalena Kobierska1, Martyna Sitek1, Katarzyna Gocyła2, Piotr Janik1
DOI: 10.1016/j.pjnns.2013.03.001
Neurol Neurochir Pol 2014;48(1):1-7.


Background and purpose

Involuntary expression of socially unacceptable words (coprolalia) or gestures (copropraxia) is the best-known symptom of Gilles de Tourette syndrome (GTS) that contributes to the social impairment. The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence, age at onset and co-occurring symptoms of coprophenomena.

Materials and methods

One hundred and sixty-eight consecutive subjects with GTS including 94 adults and 74 children and aged between 4 and 54 years (mean: 18.0±8.3) were studied. Demographic and clinical data were obtained from medical history and neurological examination.


Coprolalia or copropraxia appeared in 44 patients. Both coprophenomena were present in 9 patients. Coprolalia occurred in 25.0% (n=42) and copropraxia in 6.5% (n=11) of patients. Mean age at onset was 12.2±5.7 years (range: 4–33) for coprolalia and 12.4±4.9 years (range: 7–24) for copropraxia. Coprolalia started 4.4±3.7 years (range: 0–16) after the onset of disease; copropraxia started 6.1±4.0 years (range: 1–12) after the onset of the disease. Coprolalia began in adulthood in six patients only, and copropraxia in one person. In six patients, coprolalia appeared in the first year of the disease. Copropraxia was never seen in the first year of the disease. Coprophenomena were more frequent in patients with comorbid mental disorders, behavioral problems and severe tics. Three quarters of patients reported significant influence of coprophenomena on daily living.


Coprophenomena affect one quarter of GTS patients, appear in the time when tics are most severe, and are positively associated with comorbidity and more severe form of disease. Coprophenomena may reflect more widespread dysfunction of brain in GTS.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska