oa South African Medical Journal - A young woman with weakness of the legs : continuing medical education - : case report

Volume 104, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



A previously well 22-year-old woman presented with progressive weakness of her legs and urinary incontinence over 7 days. Clinically she was healthy, with no skin rashes. On neurological examination she had profound bilateral weakness of the lower limbs, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, a positive Babinski sign and a T6 sensory level. Tests for syphilis and HIV and screening for auto-immune conditions were negative. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord revealed extensive cord swelling between the craniocervical junction and T11, a high signal in the right optic nerve and a normal brain. Aquaporin 4 antibodies (neuromyelitis optica immunoglobulin G (NMO-IgG)) were positive with a titre of 1:1 000. These findings confirmed a diagnosis of NMO or Devic's disease.

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