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M L Cheneler Department of Internal Medicine, Medical City Weatherford, Weatherford, Texas, USA

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K Qureshi Department of Internal Medicine, Medical City Weatherford, Weatherford, Texas, USA

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C Bahrami Department of Internal Medicine, Medical City Weatherford, Weatherford, Texas, USA

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Summary

Hemichorea–hemiballismus (HCHB) syndrome is a syndrome characterized by choreic movements which are irregular, nonrepetitive, and random movements, and ballismus which are spontaneous and violent movements. HCHB syndrome with a metabolic cause is a rare presentation that can be precipitated by uncontrolled diabetes. Presented here is a case of HCHB syndrome with right-sided neuroimaging findings and contralateral chorea due to uncontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus. This patient was found to be obtunded with a blood glucose of greater than 500 mg/dL by EMS. After the administration of insulin, she was able to answer clarifying questions of noncompliance with her antihyperglycemic medications. She had a computed tomography without contrast of the head which showed hyperdense lesions in the right caudate nucleus and putamen consistent with HCHB syndrome. She was started on treatment for nonketotic hyperglycemia with insulin. As her mentation improved, she was able to cooperate with physical examination, which revealed irregular and violent movements in the left upper and lower extremities. Her hemichorea and hemiballismus improved with strict glycemic control, and she was able to be discharged to a skilled nursing facility for further rehabilitation. She would later have repeated hospitalizations for poor glycemic control, and repeat neuroimaging would reveal the resolution of hyperdensities after 4 months. HCHB syndrome due to uncontrolled diabetes has been termed diabetic striatopathy and is characterized by poor glycemic control, unilateral striatal hyperdensity on CT imaging, and contralateral choreic movements. Diabetic striatopathy remains a poorly understood disease, and the exact pathophysiologic mechanism has not been definitively elucidated.

Learning points

  • Diabetic striatopathy is a relatively new term for metabolic etiology of hemichorea–hemiballismus syndrome and was coined in 2009.

  • The triad for diabetic striatopathy is poor glycemic control, unilateral striatal hyperdensity on CT imaging, and contralateral choreic movements.

  • Multiple etiologies have been suggested for the cause of diabetic striatopathy including petechial hemorrhage, mineral deposition, myelin destruction, and infarction with reactive astrocytosis; however, the exact mechanism has yet to be determined.

  • Antidopaminergic medications may be used to control the choreic movements of diabetic striatopathy; however, the mainstay of treatment is glycemic control, often with insulin therapy.

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