Mycoplasma pneumoniae, a trigger for Weston Hurst syndrome

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Abstract

Objective:

We report a case of Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection as one possible trigger for Weston Hurst syndrome (acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis), a rare disorder of microvascular injury often described as a postinfectious complication of an upper respiratory illness.

Methods:

This is a case of a 27-year-old man presenting with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 3 and an acute head CT revealing extensive vasogenic edema in the right hemisphere associated with mass effect in the context of a recent upper respiratory illness. Right frontal biopsy was performed on day 2, which showed acute cerebritis, and the patient was aggressively treated with antibiotics. However, over the next 5 days from presentation, the vasogenic edema increased, leading ultimately to brain herniation and death.

Results:

A full autopsy was performed at 5 days from presentation, which showed areas of vessel wall fibrinoid necrosis throughout the right hemisphere as well as, but less so, in the left frontal lobe and pons. Chest x-ray on presentation revealed atypical pneumonia, blood tests were positive for cold agglutinins, and at full autopsy, there was myocarditis, all in keeping with recent M pneumoniae infection. DNA obtained from lung and diseased brain (postmortem) was positive for Mycoplasma providing more direct evidence for brain invasion by this organism as the ultimate trigger for Weston Hurst syndrome.

Conclusions:

This is a rare case report of Weston Hurst syndrome having both initial brain biopsy on day 2 and full autopsy results on day 5 of presentation revealing important clinical clues about the pathogenesis of this often fatal disorder.

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