Peduncular Hallucinosis and Autonomic Dysfunction in Anti-Aquaporin-4 Antibody Syndrome

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Neuromyelitis optica is a rare, severe inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, previously described as affecting only the optic nerve and spinal cord. Since the discovery of a highly specific autoantibody, anti-aquaporin-4, lesions are now recognized outside these regions. We report a man with severe, debilitating symptoms resulting from a symptomatic lesion within the diencephalon, manifesting with abnormal circadian rhythms, autonomic dysfunction, behavioral disturbance, and complex visual hallucinations. The patient reported seeing nonexistent small people and animals, streaks of color across people’s faces, movement of objects and facial features, water cascading down walls, bright spots, and writing appearing as hieroglyphics. His centrally driven sick sinus syndrome required insertion of a permanent cardiac pacemaker. We have been able to suppress his disease activity with methotrexate for 30 months. We review the literature on patients with positive anti-aquaporin-4 serology and dysregulation of hypothalamic function, to provide evidence that the clinical manifestations can include complex visual phenomena.

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