Drop attacks: an unexpected diagnosis Ana Cristina Lladó, Rui Malheiro, Ana Rita Estriga Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Santo António dos Capuchos, Lisbon, Portugal Correspondence to Dr Ana Cristina Lladó, [email protected] Accepted 19 February 2014
To cite: Lladó AC, Malheiro R, Estriga AR. BMJ Case Rep Published online: [please include Day Month Year] doi:10.1136/bcr-2013202551
DESCRIPTION A healthy 40-year-old woman, without previous medication presented with 6-month history of recurrent falls, with no prodromes or triggering factor, loss of consciousness and with instantaneous recovery to baseline status. Physical examination, blood tests, ECG and echocardiography, EEG were unrevealing. CT of the brain showed a giant cystic lesion of the posterior fossa with mass effect and shaping of fourth ventricle and cisterns of the base (ﬁgure 1A). MRI revealed a lesion with an identical signal to the cerebrospinal ﬂuid with no abnormal enhancement after gadolinium injection, suggesting invaginated arachnoid cyst (ﬁgure 1B,C). Patient underwent craniotomy and cyst fenestration to the magna cistern (ﬁgure 2). It was a successful surgery which permitted a gain in quality of life because no further falls were seen. Drop attacks consist of sudden falls like described above. This clinical picture is more frequent in elderly individuals and idiopathic in 65% of cases. It is usually explained by a transient bilateral disorder involving structures of the central nervous system responsible for postural tonus and balance. However, over time the term ‘drop attacks’ was applied to different situations associated with fall without meeting the deﬁning criteria noted above (syncope, arrhythmias, vasovagal responses, transient ischaemia of the vertebrobasilar area, epileptic variants, Tumarkin otolithic crises, psychiatric disorders, etc). These ones must be assumed as possible differential diagnoses.1–3 The treatment must be individualised. In this case we have a middle-age patient with a median lesion of posterior fossa implicated in a transient blocking of the circulatory cerebral aqueduct.
Figure 2 Control CT after surgery showed a persistent but smaller lesion with a considerable reduction of mass effect.
Learning points ▸ Drop attacks consist of sudden falls without prodromes, trigger factors or loss of consciousness and with instantaneous recovery to baseline status. ▸ They are usually explained by a transient bilateral disorder involving structures of the central nervous system responsible for postural tonus and balance. ▸ Several differential diagnoses should be considered.
Figure 1 CT of the brain showed a giant cystic lesion of the posterior fossa with mass effect and shaping of fourth ventricle and basal cisterns (A—axial view). MRI revealed lesion with an identical signal to cerebrospinal ﬂuid (B—axial view and C—sagittal view) with no abnormal reinforcements after gadolinium injection, suggesting invaginated arachnoid.
Lladó AC, et al. BMJ Case Rep 2014. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-202551
Images in… Contributors All authors contributed to the clinical evaluation of the patient and to the diagnostic approach. They were also involved in the bibliographic research and image collection.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Lanska DJ. Drop attacks. Neurology 2004 [medLink]. retrieved 18 October 2013. http://www.medlink.com/medlinkcontent.asp Welsh LW, Welsh JJ, Lewin B, et al. Vascular analysis of individuals with drop attacks. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2004;113:245. Dallan I, Bruschini L, Nacci A. Drop attacks and vertical vertigo after transtympanic gentamicin: diagnosis and management. Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital 2005;25:370.
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Lladó AC, et al. BMJ Case Rep 2014. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-202551
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