Small infarctions of cochlear, retinal, and encephalic tissue in young women.
Recently, a rare syndrome that involves uniformly the brain, inner ear, and retina in previously healthy young women has been described. Brain biopsies and ophthalmologic examinations disclosed small infarcts as a pathoanatomical substrate of the disease. In previous reports, an autoimmune disorder or a coagulopathy have been suggested as possible etiologies.
Both patients (aged 22 and 20 years) had brain involvement with neurological and neuropsychological deficits. Multifocal small hyperintensities were shown in magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Findings of cerebrospinal fluid examination and electroencephalography were pathological in case 1 and of cerebral angiography in case 2. Both patients had a neurosensory hearing loss and multiple retinal branch arteriolar occlusions. Both women were on fenfluramine before onset of the disease. In case 1, attacks recurred during a follow-up of 34 months. At onset of the disease the 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and homovanillic acid levels of the cerebrospinal fluid were reduced; 13 months later the 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid level was still reduced and the homovanillic acid level was low-normal. In case 2, with the longest follow-up of 13 years, the disease was active during only the initial 2 1/4 years. During this period a combination of oral anticoagulant and antiplatelet agents was ineffective.
Our findings could not support current etiologic hypotheses. Whether changes in 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and homovanillic acid levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and/or fenfluramine intake play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease remains to be elucidated.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association