PMID: 9255135Aug 1, 1997Paper

Approach to generalized weakness and peripheral neuromuscular disease

Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America
F LoVecchio, S Jacobson


A large number of intellectually engaging and potentially serious neuromuscular diseases have been presented. The emergency medicine physician must be able to recognize those entities that have the potential to clinically deterioration. The evaluation of weakness requires a comprehensive, broad-based differential that is driven by the history and physical. Diagnostic testing is determined by the clinical suspicion as is the urgency for further work-up. The following are the final diagnoses of the eight illustrative cases that were presented at the beginning of this article. Case 1. This unfortunate woman had a metabolic myopathy that was only diagnosed after enzymatic analysis of a muscle biopsy. Her genetic defect, carnitine palmitoyltransferase deficiency, is unusual as it does not present until late in adolescence or slightly later in life. It is a defect in lipid metabolism in which long-chain fatty acids are unable to gain entrance into the mitochondrion for oxidative degradation. The defect is apparent only after prolonged exercise or fasting. In this patient, rhabddomyolysis led to acute renal failure that resolved without requiring temporary dialysis. Case 2. This patient had an elevated CPK-MM. Her EMG showed myopathic...Continue Reading


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