Valproate-induced hyperammonemic encephalopathy treated by hemodialysis

Ming-Feng Tsai, Chen-Yin Chen
Renal Failure 2008, 30 (8): 822-4
Valproate-induced hyperammonemic encephalopathy is an unusual but serious complication that may occur in people with normal liver-associated enzyme levels, despite normal therapeutic doses and serum levels of valproate. Here, we describe an adolescent girl who had absence seizure and complained about progressive dizziness and general malaise several days after restarting valproate. Then, she presented vomiting and decreased consciousness three weeks after valproate use. Notably, her serum ammonia level was five times the upper limit of normal (184 micrommol/L), with normal liver-associated enzyme and supra-therapeutic valproate level. EEG showed continuous generalized slowing. The tandem mass analysis revealed carnitine deficiency. Consciousness improved after emergent hemodialysis. Ammonia level and EEG also returned to normal. Possible mechanisms, risk factors and the treatments of valproate-induced hyperammonemic encephalopathy are described. Physicians should consider this possibility when consciousness disturbance occurs in patients treated with valproate.

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