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J Med Case Rep. 2018 May 17;12(1):134. doi: 10.1186/s13256-018-1666-3.

Valproate-induced hyperammonemia - uncovering an underlying inherited metabolic disorder: a case report.

Author information

1
General Practice, King's College London, London, UK. shaine.mehta@kcl.ac.uk.
2
University College London Hospital, London, UK.
3
Metabolic Medicine, Charles Dent Metabolic Unit, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sodium valproate is a commonly used anticonvulsant. It is widely recognized that valproate can cause hyperammonemia, particularly in people with underlying liver disease. Patients with urea cycle disorders are genetically predisposed to this adverse event and can develop severe hyperammonemia if given valproate. This can occur even if liver functions tests and plasma concentration of valproate are normal, highlighting the importance of checking ammonia levels in any patient presenting with encephalopathy. Specific treatment for hyperammonemia must be implemented promptly.

CASE PRESENTATION:

A 22-year-old white British man with a history of epilepsy post head trauma presented with subacute encephalopathy 4 weeks after the introduction of sodium valproate. His ammonia levels were not checked until 48 hours into his presentation and were found to be elevated. He initially responded to treatment of his hyperammonemia and the raised levels were attributed to sodium valproate. However, as his ammonia levels continued to rise, further investigation led to a diagnosis of ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency.

CONCLUSIONS:

Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency is the most common of the urea cycle disorders. This case highlights both the importance of checking ammonia levels early and considering the diagnosis of this X-linked disorder in patients with raised ammonia, as these have implications both for the patient's acute and further management, and for family screening.

KEYWORDS:

Encephalopathy; Liver disease; OTC; Sodium valproate

PMID:
29769109
PMCID:
PMC5956736
DOI:
10.1186/s13256-018-1666-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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