Indika Wettasinghe, Arjunar Elanko, Asanka Ratnayake, Varithamby Thambippillai Rajendiran, Suresh Mendis

A rare neurological manifestation of diabetes mellitus—Hemichorea-hemiballismus in a patient with diabetic striatopathy: A case report

  • General Medicine

Diabetic striatopathy is a rare neurological complication of diabetes mellitus that presents with sudden onset hemichorea or hemiballismus and is associated with hyperglycemia and striatal abnormality, either by hyperdensity on non-contrast computer tomography or hyperintensity on T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. Here we report a 55-year-old female, from Sri Lanka, who presented with involuntary movements of the left upper and lower limbs. Her past medical history included diabetes mellitus and she was on warfarin 5 mg daily for a mechanical mitral and tricuspid valve replacement. The random blood sugar on admission was 462 mg/dL and the last INR was 3.03. While hemiballismus has multiple etiologies, intracranial hemorrhage would be the main differential in a patient on anticoagulation. Other differentials include drug-induced dyskinesia, metabolic abnormalities, and autoimmune etiologies. Hemiballismus in the presence of high blood glucose should always raise the suspicion of diabetic striatopathy. The non-contrast computed tomography of the brain showed hyperdensity in the right-side caudate nucleus, lentiform nucleus, and globus pallidus which is a characteristic of diabetic striatopathy but could have been mistaken for an intracranial hemorrhage. The involuntary movements improved with glucose control and treatment with clonazepam and tetrabenazine. This case highlights the potential for misdiagnosis of diabetic striatopathy as an intracranial hemorrhage in a patient on warfarin, which can lead to delays in appropriate management and erroneous omission of warfarin. Early recognition and treatment of diabetic striatopathy can lead to significant improvement in the quality of life.

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