[A 75-year-old man with parkinsonism and sudden death].No To Shinkei. 1995 Dec; 47(12):1199-208.NT
We report a 75-year-old man with parkinsonism who died suddenly. The patient was well until 64 years of the age when he had an onset of tremor in his left hand. He was treated with a medicine in another hospital, and his tremor subsided. Five years after the onset, he started to note difficulty in fine finger movements and gait disturbance. He tended to lean backward with frequent falls. He was treated with bromocriptine, trihexyphenydil, and L-dops without apparent improvement. He visited our out patient clinic on November 11, 1993 when he was 75 years of the age. Neurologic examination at that time revealed an alert and well oriented man in no acute distress. Higher cerebral functions were intact. In the cranial nerves, he showed restriction in the upward as well as down ward gaze (40% of normal). He showed masking of the face and spoke in small voice. He walked in a stooped posture with small steps; retropulsion was present. Muscle rigidity was moderately positive in the neck, however, no rigidity was noted in the limbs. No abnormal involuntary movements were seen. He showed moderate bradykinesia and difficulty in finger tapping. Muscle stretch reflexes were normally elicited and the plantar response was flexor bilaterally. Sensation was intact. The autonomic nervous system appeared intact. He was treated with 300 mg/day of Sinemet with marginal improvement in his balance. In February 4, 1994, he had a common cold. On the next day, his parkinsonism worsened and he became unable to walk by himself. He was found unconscious in the bathroom on the same day. He was brought to our hospital by an ambulance. Upon arrival, he was unresponsive and was not breathing. Blood pressure could not be measured. Pupils were dilated without reaction to light. Cardiac resuscitation was attempted, however, ventricular fibrillation appeared on an EEG monitor, and he was pronounced dead at eleven o'clock in the morning. The patient was discussed in a neurological CPC, and the chief discussant arrived at the conclusion that the patient had progressive supranuclear palsy because of vertical gaze palsy, axial rigidity, and poor response to levodopa. Regarding the cause of his sudden death, the chief discussant thought that he developed pulmonary embolism. Postmortem examination revealed non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis in the heart, but this did not appeared to be related to his sudden death. Multiple disseminated small emboli were found occluding small arteries of the left lung; this was consistent with acute pulmonary embolism, and this was thought to be the cause of his sudden death. In the central nervous system, marked atrophy of the globus pallidus was noted; both internal as well as external segments showed marked atrophy; no myelinated fibers were seen in the globus pallidus. Neuronal cell loss was marked in the globus pallidus, the subthalamic nucleus, and the substantia nigra. No Lewy bodies or tangles were seen. The histologic diagnosis was consistent with pallido-nigro-luysian atrophy. Brownish pigments such as seen in Hallervorden-Spatz disease were seen in the globus pallidus. In addition, formy spheroids were seen in the substantia nigra. However, iron deposits were not so strong as to suggest Hallervorden-Spatz disease. Pallido-nigro-luysian atrophy is a rare neurodegenerative disorder. It is interesting to note that this condition may mimic progressive supranuclear palsy or pure akinesia clinically.