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March 1976

Delayed Encephalopathy After Strangling

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Arch Neurol. 1976;33(3):196-199. doi:10.1001/archneur.1976.00500030052011

• An 11-year-old boy who had been the victim of a strangling attempt was asymptomatic for one week whereupon involuntary movements involving the trunk and limbs developed, along with repetitive episodes of opisthotonos and autonomic dysfunction. Meanwhile, he remained alert and appeared to be mentally intact. An electroencephalogram was normal. He died 13 weeks after the onset of the neurological disorder. The neuropathological examination showed cavitating lesions in the caudate nucleus, putamen, and globus pallidus bilaterally, with sparing of the white matter.

The delayed onset of a progressively evolving neurological disorder has been noted in various forms of hypoxicischemic insult, including previously reported cases of strangling, but its occurrence cannot be predicted from the preceding clinical state or course. In the cases in which abnormal movements have been predominant, the pathological findings have been similar despite diversity in the preceding circumstances. We suggest the underlying metabolic disorder common to these cases may be lactic acidosis, and that they should be studied for evidence of a biochemical defect.