Central pontine myelinolysis secondary to hyperglycemia in a young patient


Advocate Christ Hospital


Central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) is a neurological disorder typically caused by rapid correction of severe chronic hyponatremia. Conditions causing a hyperosmolar state can also cause CPM, but it is rarely seen in diabetes. Here we describe a case of a 34-year-old female with longstanding uncontrolled diabetes mellitus who presented with bilateral upper and lower limb weakness and dysphagia. Examination showed decreased muscle strength, and laboratory investigations showed high HbA1c, high blood glucose, increased serum osmolality, and normal sodium. A diagnosis of CPM was made after MRI showed restricted diffusion in the bilateral pons and CT showed pontine hypodensities. The patient was started on insulin therapy, and she showed clinical improvement with improving blood glucose levels. After five days of hospital stay, she was discharged home with appointments to neurology and endocrinology clinics. This case shows that CPM is a potential complication of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus in the presence of normal serum sodium. Timely treatment of hyperglycemia can lead to improvement of symptoms, but it is a potentially fatal condition. Thus, a diagnosis of CPM should be considered in diabetic patients who present with neurological symptoms and hyperglycemia.

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