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Sensory ataxic polyneuropathy unmasking late-onset urea cycle defect.

A 63-year-old man with type 2 diabetes mellitus, alcohol consumption in moderation, and three episodes of hepatic encephalopathy presented with symmetrical lower limb distal weakness, sensory ataxia, thickened palpable nerves, mood disturbances for seven years, and a family history of schizophreniform disorders. Nerve conduction studies showed demyelinating sensorimotor polyradiculoneuropathy. CSF analysis showed mild albumino-cytological dissociation. MRI brain and lumbosacral plexus showed thickened fifth cranial nerves and lumbosacral roots. He was treated with steroids for a provisional diagnosis of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy and became encephalopathic. EEG showed triphasic waves. Serum ammonia was 201 micrograms/dL. Further evaluation suggested ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency. The patient underwent hemodialysis with a low protein diet, rifaximin, and sodium benzoate, with subsequent recovery.

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