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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135

Abstract

SMITH, L; KEMP, T; VAN DER MEYDEN, C H  and  SCHUTTE, C-M. Basedow paraplegia: A possible misnomer. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2015, vol.105, n.10, pp. 876-876. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJNEW.8768.

Thyrotoxic myopathy frequently occurs in clinical practice; however, the association of hyperthyroidism with a flaccid, areflexic paraplegia, so-called Basedow paraplegia, appears to represent a controversial and doubtful entity. An 18-year-old female with undiagnosed and untreated Graves' disease presented with acute onset of global weakness predominantly in the lower limbs, but also affecting the upper limbs. The weakness was accompanied by hypotonia and areflexia. Clinically, the patient had a goitre and signs of thyroid ocular disease. Laboratory testing confirmed the presence of hyperthyroidism, and thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies were positive. The cerebrospinal fluid protein level was raised. The electroneuronographic and needle examinations were compatible with a clear denervation process, such as acute motor axonal neuropathy, a variant of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, carbimazole and propranolol were administered. The occurrence of hyperthyroidism with a flaccid, areflexic paraplegia appears to represent more of a fortuitous than a causative association. It is important to consider and treat other causes, such as acute idiopathic polyneuritis.

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