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עמוד בית
Sun, 21.07.24

Clinical case education

IMAJ | volume 19

Journal 12, December 2017
pages: 786-791

Clinical Problem Solving: A Tobacco Merchant Who Can’t Spit

Summary

A 47 year old man presented with a combination of dry mouth and lightheadedness while standing. His medical background was unremarkable except for cigarette smoking and hyperlipidemia. Sjögren’s syndrome was ruled out, and he was referred for evaluation of orthostatic hypotension, which by then included syncopal episodes and injuries. Additional symptoms included dry eyes, constipation, reduced sweating, and erectile dysfunction. After excluding medications and structural cardiac abnormalities as causes of orthostatic hypotension, a clinical autonomic evaluation was performed. The pattern of beat-to-beat blood pressure associated with performance of the Valsalva maneuver, and a low plasma norepinephrine level that did not increase in response to standing, established that the orthostatic hypotension was neurogenic. Treatment with an alpha-adrenoceptor agonist and fludrocortisone yielded partial improvement. After systemic diseases involving autonomic failure were excluded, cardiac sympathetic neuroimaging was performed by 123I-metaliodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) scanning. The normal uptake seen in the heart indicated intact post ganglionic sympathetic innervation. There were no signs of central neurodegeneration or peripheral neuropathy. Because of symptoms and signs of both parasympathetic and sympathetic failure without denervation, an autonomic ganglionopathy was considered. A high titer of antibody to the neuronal nicotinic receptor, which mediates ganglionic neurotransmission, was obtained. The diagnosis of autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG) was made, and the management strategy shifted to first lowering the antibody burden by plasma exchanges and then instituting chronic anti-autoimmune treatment with rituximab and a low dose of cortiosteroid. The patient showed remarkable improvement.

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