Ammonia induced encephalopathy from valproic acid in a bipolar patient: case report

Larissa Elgudin, Yvonne Hall, Daniel Schubert
International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 2003, 33 (1): 91-6
Valproic acid is widely used as a mood stabilizer. We report a case of an adult with bipolar disorder taking therapeutic doses of valproic acid, who presented to the emergency department with coma related to hyperammonemia as a complication of valproic acid treatment. Valproic acid was discontinued which resulted in rapid clinical recovery. Valproic acid induced coma was likely related to a urea cycle enzymopathy. Clinicians should consider hyperammonemia in all patients who present with coma and other mental status changes while on valproic acid. In such patients, ammonia level should be obtained in addition to liver function tests.

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