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Right sided weakness but not a stroke

Discussion in 'ALS Discussion' started by Linuss, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. Linuss

    Linuss Forum Chief

    I had an odd patient yesterday and it had me stumped.

    We were called to a clinic for a 39yo exhibiting signs of right sided weakness. I get there and start my assessment.

    He claimed it's been going on for about 3 days, same 'severity' all three days but finally decided to get it checked. Also states he has noticed some short term memory loss (not noticed by me as I gave him some words to remember, which he did better then I could have and I'm healthy!) No medical history aside from a broken arm when he was a teenager. Not on any medications, has not been out of the country recently, and hasn't gone swimming. No recent trauma / falls to speak of. No fatigue felt. Family history (aunt) of MS.

    I had him squeeze both my hands at once and the right side was noticeably weaker. I then had him push down / pull up on the feet, and again, right side was way weaker. Arm drift was negative (able to hold both arms out the same). I had him smile, show teeth, and stick out tongue and all was normal.

    Complains of no tingling, but slightly diminished sensation in the right extremities. The diminished feeling starts just below the clavicals which made me think that it probably wasn't CNS in origin, probably just PNS which means possibly peripheral neuroapthy? But caused by what?

    BGL of 117. Normal temp. Eyes PERL.

    Did a 12 lead and saw NSR with no ectopy.

    Anyone have anything like this?

    If I missed something that can help more, let me know and I'll see if I can get it up.
  2. Linuss

    Linuss Forum Chief

    Meh, let me correct my title. I guess I can't completely rule out it being a stroke, so "right sided weakness, but doesn't present as a classic stroke"
  3. Seaglass

    Seaglass Lesser Ambulance Ape

    I've got a frequent flier who presents with severe one-sided weakness that looks a lot like a stroke. Diagnosed with conversion disorder.

    Could also be a spinal injury, despite his lack of memory. Drinker? Sleepwalker? Emotional issues?

    MS symptoms can also be one-sided. Could be his first attack.

    Brain tumor, possibly. Headaches recently? Other neuro issues?

    Could also be fatigue, depending on what he's been doing.
  4. MonkeySquasher

    MonkeySquasher FF/EMT/AngloSaxon Love God


    I'd say a pinched/shocked nerve, but that's usually one extremity or area. So that's out.

    I'd say MAYBE something ischemic going on (TIA, etc), some neck/cervical problem yet unknown, or a tumor.

    I don't know about anyone else, but the moment my mom told me Ted Kennedy had a seizure at the Capitol, I told her he had a brain tumor. Something out of the blue and neuro, I point to metabolic, stroke or tumor. If it's not acute, I lean more to metabolic or tumor, and this doesn't seem metobolic.

    JPINFV Gadfly

    The DDxs based on just the information provided are pretty extensive. From off the top of my head (including the fact that neuro was about a month and a half ago now, so a lot of the specifics are in long term storage until board review)

    Conversion (albeit this one is completely inapporate to DDx prehospitally)
    Some sort of central motor neuron disorder.
    Some sort of spinal cord insult.

    What would be helpful is knowing which muscles were actually affected and which dermatones are. In musculoskeletal disorder, there are specific patterns seen, such as distal arm/proximal leg weakness (inclusion body myositis) or limb-girdle (Duchenne's, polymyositis, dematomyositis). Muscle innervation grossly follows deep tendon reflex nerves and there's a quick and dirty way to remember this:

    1,2: Achillies (sacral 1, 2)
    3,4: Patellar (lumbar 3, 4)
    5,6: Biceps (cervical 5, 6)
    7,8, Triceps (cervical 7, 8)

    Remembering DTRs is as simple as 1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8

    As far as being CNS, just because something stops at a specific area doesn't mean it can't be CNS. First off, CNS includes the spinal cord, second off, the motor and sensory homunculus (homunculi?) follow a similar pattern in terms of what is located where and are right next two each other, except on different gyri (hills).

    Also, loss of fine touch, sharp touch, or both? Different types of sensation (for example, pain/temp follows a different pathway than fine touch/vibration/conscious proprioception) have different pathways all the way up to the cortex. You don't need something sharp enough to easily cause injury. Anything somewhat "sharp" would do. Sure, a hypodermic needle would "work" (although I wouldn't suggest it), something as simple as the pointy tip of the handle of a Taylor style reflex hammer (stereotypical style in the US) would work for this purpose.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2010
  6. rescue99

    rescue99 Forum Deputy Chief

    Sounds like MS. No way to tell without further diagnostics.
  7. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Sounds supratentorial.

    Have him grip your paired fingers, then you start shaking them rapidly about an inch or so back and forth and tell him firmly "harder, harder harder". You can elicit a firmer grip that way, often to equal, or you can observe the grip suddenly stop altogether (not shaken off but goes limp); these are signs that it likely, not certainly but likely, is voluntary.

    I had the "luxury" being able to watch patient's gait to AND FROM me, and getting onto the exam table or down/up to a chair. After an encounter, sometimes the pt suddenly "regained" normal gait and stance once the appointment was over.

    When it comes to falling or selectively regaining strength and proprioception, usually the fear of falling wins. If someone DOES fall, observe for how they assist their "rescuer", or, how they either catch themselves or hit the floor. (Cold stuff, but sometimes you cannot get them, so observe while it goes down). A stroke will not allow guarding, and the pt usually has inadequate coordinaton and strength to help their "catcher".
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2010
  8. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    PS: A history I took on a similar case...

    Weakness? yes
    Pain? yes
    Visual disturbance? yes
    PAresthesia? yes
    Hemiplegia? yes
    Hemiopia? yes
    Sense of vibration? yes
    Loud noises frighten you? yes
    Has this happened before? yes
    What did you do?
    I took my Dilaudid and went back to bed.
    Oy veh.
  9. 8jimi8

    8jimi8 CFRN

  10. usalsfyre

    usalsfyre You have my stapler

    As a field provider I'd advise you to treat it as a "non-acute" (i.e. onset >6hrs) CVA and transport to a stroke center. Narrowing a "weakness" call down to a specific diagnosis often requires time, resources and education most EMS providers (myself included) don't have. See if you can follow up and learn what to look for next time.
  11. Aidey

    Aidey Forum Deputy Chiefette

    We just had one of those the other day. Went from a stroke activation to conversion disorder. The ER doc was just as convinced as I was it was a stroke, he was even giving the pt TPA.

    I thought that for it to be a TIA the symptoms/deficits had to resolve within 24 hours?
  12. 8jimi8

    8jimi8 CFRN

    No, with a TIA i think the criteria is that it the deficits are reversible, i've heard of them lasting as long as 72 hours I believe. There is another disorder where the deficits can last longer like months, but as long as they are reversible its not a stroke.

    i'll have to check my notes, i can't remember the name of the condition

    hmmm Reversible Ischemic Neurological Deficit?
  13. Linuss

    Linuss Forum Chief

    Already was a step ahead of ya on that one, took him to a stroke center and got him in CT asap, just couldn't stay for the results. I wasn't going to make the assertion that this wasn't a stroke and as such didn't need a CT, I was just wondering if anyone has seen any symptoms on someone like this.

    8jimi8, From my schooling, TIA was 24 hours, anything longer than 24, but less then 72, is "reversible ischemic neurological deficits"

    JPIN... I did a quick dermatome test and the thing that stuck me odd is that according to him, the dermatomes didn't fit, meaning above clavicle normal feeling, but below clavicle on right arm, the whole arm, had the same numbness, not just T1 and below.

    Loss of fine, sharp and dull touches. (finger, IV cath[plastic, not needle], tongue blade), though I didn't break out the heat / cold packs to test that response... maybe next time? And now that I think about it, doing a reflex test on him would have probably shed some light too... I mean it WAS in a clinic, so I had the hammer. Though my EMT and the nurse probably would have looked at me weirdly :blush:
  14. Veneficus

    Veneficus Forum Chief

    HIV associated neuropathy.

    Not classic GBV, and it doesn't seem likely.

    Herpes Zoster

    tertiary syphilis.

    Berry aneuysm.

    early bacterial meningitis.

    Demylenating diseases

    autoimmune diseases

    It was well said, take him to the stroke center non emergent because even if it is not a stroke, they have a neurologist and a neuro surgeon which will certainly be required for DX at least.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2010
  15. Lone Star

    Lone Star Forum Crew Member

    What was the condition of the pupils?

    In 1996, I had 'stroke like symtoms' accompanied by occluded field of vision, vertigo and left sided hemiperesis. Parasthesia on the left side. My pupils were anascoric.

    As it turned out, I was diagnosed with a giant cerebral aneurysm (3cm X 3cm) in the right posterior communicating artery at the junction of the Circle of Willis.

    The berry aneurysm was pressing on the 'sensory strip' of the brain, and caused the 'stroke like symptoms'.

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