Hyperammonemic crises in ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC) can be associated with devastating cerebral edema resulting in severe long-term neurologic impairment and death. We present an 8-year-old boy who had late-onset OTC deficiency in which early and aggressive management of hyperammonemia and associated cerebral edema, including therapeutic hypothermia and barbiturate-induced coma, resulted in favorable neurologic outcome. Our patient presented with vomiting and altered mental status, and was found to have a significantly elevated serum ammonia level of 1561 μmol/L. Hyperammonemia was managed with hemodialysis, 10% sodium phenylacetate, 10% sodium benzoate, L-arginine, intravenous 10% dextrose, intralipids, and protein restriction. He developed significant cerebral edema with intracranial pressures >20 mm Hg, requiring treatment with 3% saline and mannitol. Despite this treatment our patient continued to have elevated intracranial pressures, which were treated aggressively with non-conventional modalities including therapeutic hypothermia, barbiturate-induced coma, and external ventricular drainage. This therapy resulted in stabilization of hyperammonemia and resolution of cerebral edema. Molecular testing later revealed a hemizygous mutation within the OTC gene. Neuropsychological testing 1 year after discharge showed normal intelligence with no visual-motor deficits, minor deficits in working memory and processing speed, and slightly below average processing speed and executive functioning.
- cerebral edema
- induced hypothermia
- intracranial hypertension
- ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency
- Accepted September 18, 2013.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics