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Open access

Sebastian Hörber, Sarah Hudak, Martin Kächele, Dietrich Overkamp, Andreas Fritsche, Hans-Ulrich Häring, Andreas Peter and Martin Heni

Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening complication of diabetes mellitus. It usually occurs in patients with type 1 diabetes where it is typically associated with only moderately increased blood glucose. Here, we report the case of a 52-year-old female patient who was admitted to the emergency unit with severely altered mental status but stable vital signs. Laboratory results on admission revealed very high blood glucose (1687 mg/dL/93.6 mmol/L) and severe acidosis (pH <7) with proof of ketone bodies in serum and urine. Past history revealed a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosed 10 years ago and for which the patient was treated with risperidone for many years. Acute treatment with intravenous fluids, intravenous insulin infusion and sodium bicarbonate improved the symptoms. Further laboratory investigations confirmed diagnosis of autoimmune type 1 diabetes. After normalization of blood glucose levels, the patient could soon be discharged with a subcutaneous insulin therapy.

Learning points:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis as first manifestation of type 1 diabetes can occur with markedly elevated blood glucose concentrations in elder patients.
  • Atypical antipsychotics are associated with hyperglycemia and an increased risk of new-onset diabetes.
  • First report of risperidone-associated diabetic ketoacidosis in new-onset type 1 diabetes.
  • Patients treated with atypical antipsychotics require special care and regular laboratory examinations to detect hyperglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • In cases when the diagnosis is in doubt, blood gas analysis as well as determination of C-peptide and islet autoantibodies can help to establish the definite diabetes type.
Open access

Alexandra Rose Pain, Josh Pomroy and Andrea Benjamin

Summary

Hamman’s syndrome (spontaneous subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum) is a rare complication of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), with a multifactorial etiology. Awareness of this syndrome is important: it is likely underdiagnosed as the main symptom of shortness of breath is often attributed to Kussmaul’s breathing and the findings on chest radiograph can be subtle and easily missed. It is also important to be aware of and consider Boerhaave’s syndrome as a differential diagnosis, a more serious condition with a 40% mortality rate when diagnosis is delayed. We present a case of pneumomediastinum, pneumopericardium, epidural emphysema and subcutaneous emphysema complicating DKA in an eighteen-year-old patient. We hope that increasing awareness of Hamman’s syndrome, and how to distinguish it from Boerhaave’s syndrome, will lead to better recognition and management of these syndromes in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis.

Learning points:

  • Hamman’s syndrome (spontaneous subcutaneous emphysema and pneumomediastinum) is a rare complication of DKA.
  • Presentation may be with chest or neck pain and shortness of breath, and signs are subcutaneous emphysema and Hamman’s sign – a precordial crunching or popping sound during systole.
  • Boerhaave’s syndrome should be considered as a differential diagnosis, especially in cases with severe vomiting.
  • The diagnosis of pneumomediastinum is made on chest radiograph, but a CT thorax with water-soluble oral contrast looking for contrast leak may be required if there is high clinical suspicion of Boerrhave’s syndrome.
  • Hamman’s syndrome has an excellent prognosis, self-resolving with the correction of the ketoacidosis in all published cases in the literature.
Open access

A Majid and B J Wheeler

Summary

In clinical practice, seizures independent of hypoglycemia are observed in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) more frequently than expected by chance, suggesting a link. However, seizures during management of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) have generally been considered a bad prognostic factor, and usually associated with well-known biochemical or neurological complications. We present the case of a 17-year-old girl with known T1DM managed for severe DKA complicated by hypocapnic seizure. We review the literature on this rare occurrence as well as outline other possible differentials to consider when faced with the alarming combination of DKA and seizure.

Learning points:

  • Seizures during DKA treatment require immediate management as well as evaluation to determine their underlying cause.
  • Their etiology is varied, but a lowered seizure threshold, electrolyte disturbances and serious neurological complications of DKA such as cerebral edema must all be considered.
  • Sudden severe hypocapnia may represent a rare contributor to seizure during the treatment of DKA.
Open access

Runa Acharya and Udaya M Kabadi

Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is commonly encountered in clinical practice. The current case is a unique and rare presentation of DKA as the initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Appropriate management as elaborated in the article led to total remission of diabetes as well as the Cushing’s disease.

Learning points:

  • DKA is a serious and potentially life-threatening metabolic complication of diabetes mellitus.
  • Some well-known precipitants of DKA include new-onset T1DM, insulin withdrawal and acute illness.
  • In a patient presenting with DKA, the presence of a mixed acid–base disorder warrants further evaluation for precipitants of DKA.
  • We present a rare case of DKA as an initial manifestation of Cushing’s disease secondary to ACTH-producing pituitary adenoma.
Open access

Hiromi Himuro, Takashi Sugiyama, Hidekazu Nishigori, Masatoshi Saito, Satoru Nagase, Junichi Sugawara and Nobuo Yaegashi

Summary

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) during pregnancy is a serious complication in both mother and fetus. Most incidences occur during late pregnancy in women with type 1 diabetes mellitus. We report the rare case of a woman with type 1 diabetes mellitus who had normal glucose tolerance during the first trimester but developed DKA during late pregnancy. Although she had initially tested positive for screening of gestational diabetes mellitus during the first trimester, subsequent diagnostic 75-g oral glucose tolerance tests showed normal glucose tolerance. She developed DKA with severe general fatigue in late pregnancy. The patient's general condition improved after treatment for ketoacidosis, and she vaginally delivered a healthy infant at term. The presence of DKA caused by the onset of diabetes should be considered, even if the patient shows normal glucose tolerance during the first trimester.

Learning points

  • The presence of DKA caused by the onset of diabetes should be considered, even if the patient shows normal glucose tolerance during the first trimester.
  • Symptoms including severe general fatigue, nausea, and weight loss are important signs to suspect DKA. Findings such as Kussmaul breathing with ketotic odor are also typical.
  • Urinary test, atrial gas analysis, and anion gap are important. If pH shows normal value, calculation of anion gap is important. If the value of anion gap is more than 12, a practitioner should consider the presence of metabolic acidosis.