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Mayo Clin Proc. 2005 Jan;80(1):99-105.

Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.


Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP), a hyperthyroidism-related hypokalemia and muscle-weakening condition resulting from a sudden shift of potassium into cells, has been seen increasingly in Western countries. Failure to recognize TPP may lead to improper management. Many patients with TPP have no obvious symptoms related to hyperthyroidism. Therefore, several important clues may help in diagnosing and managing TPP: presentation in an adult male with no family history of periodic paralysis; presence of systolic hypertension, tachycardia, high QRS voltage, first-degree atrioventricular block on electrocardiography; presence of low-amplitude electrical compound muscle action potential on electromyography and no notable changes in amplitudes after low doses of epinephrinine; and typical acid-base and electrolyte findings such as normal blood acid-base state, hypokalemia with low urinary potassium excretion, hypophosphatemia associated with hypophosphaturia, and hypercalciuria. Immediate therapy with potassium chloride supplementation may foster a rapid recovery of muscle strength, but with a risk of rebound hyperkalemia. Nonselective beta-blockers may provide an alternative choice. Long-term therapy with definite control of hyperthyroidism completely abolishes attacks. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of TPP prevent life-threatening complications of this treatable and curable disorder.

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