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Encephalopathy Complicating Whipple's Disease: Failure to Respond to Antibiotics

BRIAN P. SCHMITT, M.D.; HAROLD RICHARDSON, M.D.; EVAN SMITH, M.B.B.S.; and RONALD KAPLAN, Ph.D.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Harold Richardson, M.D.; Room 2N30, McMaster Division, Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, Box 2000, Station "A," Main Street West; Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5; Canada.


Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


© 1981 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1981;94(1):51-52. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-94-1-51
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Progressive dementia, vertical ophthalmoplegia, and prominent hypothalamic dysfunction developed in one patient with documented intestinal Whipple's disease despite ongoing antibiotic therapy with intestinal remission. A clinical diagnosis of central nervous Whipple's disease was made on the basis of the patient's presentation. High-dose parenteral penicillin and chloramphenicol were administered for 4½ weeks. There was no improvement in results of daily mental status examination or neuropsychologic testing. Deterioration was noted in the electroencephalographic findings after therapy. Vigorous antibiotic therapy with agents that cross the blood-brain barrier had no immediate beneficial effect. Irreversible neurologic damage or a slow, delayed response may account for this observation.

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