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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 68:102-103 doi:10.1136/jnnp.68.1.102
  • Letters to the editor

Hashimoto's encephalopathy presenting as “myxoedematous madness”

  1. P GARRARD,
  2. J R HODGES
  1. University of Cambridge Neurology unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  2. University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  3. MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
  4. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  1. Dr P Garrard, University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Box 165, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK email garrard{at}cnbc.cmu.edu
  1. P J DE VRIES,
  2. N HUNT
  1. University of Cambridge Neurology unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  2. University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  3. MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
  4. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  1. Dr P Garrard, University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Box 165, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK email garrard{at}cnbc.cmu.edu
  1. A CRAWFORD,
  2. J R HODGES
  1. University of Cambridge Neurology unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  2. University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  3. MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
  4. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  1. Dr P Garrard, University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Box 165, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK email garrard{at}cnbc.cmu.edu
  1. K BALAN
  1. University of Cambridge Neurology unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  2. University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  3. MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, UK
  4. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK
  1. Dr P Garrard, University of Cambridge Neurology Unit, Box 165, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK email garrard{at}cnbc.cmu.edu

    The neuropsychiatric sequelae of hypothyroidism range from lethargy and mental slowing to the florid psychotic illness referred to as “myxoedematous madness”. The last condition is characterised by frank hypothyroidism accompanied by psychosis, and may respond completely to thyroxine.1 More recently described is a syndrome of subacute encephalopathy, associated with high titres of thyroid autoantibodies, raised CSF protein, EEG abnormalities, and perfusion deficits in the presence of normal structural neuroimaging.2-4 In most cases, the encephalopathy occurs without any gross change in circulating concentrations of thyroid hormones, suggesting that an inflammatory process is responsible for the cerebral dysfunction. In the absence of pathological data, the evidence for a specific pathogenetic mechanism is largely circumstantial: a small vessel vasculitis and immune complex deposition have both been suggested.3 4

    Although none of the published cases of Hashimoto's encephalopathy has described psychosis as a primary feature, it is possible that “myxoedematous madness”, a condition first described in detail by Asher in 19491 lies in a range of encephalopathic phenomena mediated by autoimmune mechanisms. This suggestion would certainly be consistent with the range of clinical presentations of other autoimmune cerebral vasculitides.5 As autoimmune thyroiditis is the commonest cause of thyroid failure in this country,6 it is likely to have been present in at …