Chronic hypothermia and water intoxication associated with a neurodegenerative disease.

Department of Medicine, Whittington Hospital, London, UK.
Postgraduate Medical Journal (Impact Factor: 1.45). 01/1994; 69(818):937-40. DOI: 10.1136/pgmj.69.818.937
Source: PubMed


We describe a 71 year old man with a neurodegenerative condition who developed chronic inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion and hypothermia resulting in recurrent episodes of impaired consciousness. This combination of abnormalities is attributable to hypothalamic disease and has not to our knowledge been previously reported with clearly documented antidiuretic hormone excess.

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    ABSTRACT: Spontaneous periodic hypothermia is a rare syndrome of recurrent, centrally mediated hypothermia without an identifiable systemic cause or brain lesion. Most patients defend a temporarily lowered temperature "set point" during episodes of hypothermia, despite manifesting many well-known systemic consequences of core temperature hypothermia. No case of death directly attributable to an episode of spontaneous periodic hypothermia has been reported, although many of the serious systemic effects of hypothermia have been documented in these cases, so it is not unlikely that death may occur. The syndrome's cause, and that of Shapiro syndrome, remains unknown. Pharmacologic trials to date have been only modestly successful. Anticonvulsant agents, clonidine, and cyproheptadine appear the most likely to succeed, with cyproheptadine being a reasonable first choice. Given that the term "spontaneous periodic hypothermia" describes a syndrome, and not a pathophysiologic mechanism, it is likely to encompass a common eventuality, arrived at via several different pathways. One can postulate mechanisms such as structural abnormalities, trauma, infection, irritation, and degeneration involving strategic locations which create a focus for epileptic or other periodic dysfunction whose scope involves the centers for thermoregulation. The existence of 2 distinct, oppositional thermoregulatory centers would allow for speculation of similar mechanisms accounting for cases of both periodic hypo- and hyperthermia (61). Postmortem data regarding the hypothalamic and surrounding areas from future cases of Shapiro syndrome and spontaneous periodic hypothermia would be of great interest. Further, more sensitive in vivo testing methods are clearly needed. The role of PET or single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with technetium 99m-labeled hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (Tc 99m HMPAO) performed acutely during an episode remains to be characterized (64, 103, 105). The term "diencephalic epilepsy" may in fact be accurate, given the periodic episodes of the case presented here and similar cases resulting from non-generalized seizure activity, with or without an underlying predisposing lesion. The label diencephalic epilepsy has been merely speculative so far, however, as definitive evidence of seizure activity has not been documented. Further, it is expected that the descriptive terms "spontaneous periodic hypothermia" and "episodic spontaneous hypothermia with hyperhidrosis" will outlive their usefulness as researchers gain greater understanding of this syndrome, and be replaced with a more pathophysiologically meaningful nomenclature.
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