African Journal of Neurological Sciences

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Autoimmune encephalitis: a missed diagnostic and therapeutic opportunity

Izanne Roos, Ahmed Iqbal Bhigjee


Encephalitis is a common clinical problem affecting 5 cases per 100 000 population annually. After exclusion of the usual infective causes, a number of cases remain unexplained. It has been observed that many such cases have an autoimmune basis resulting in disruption of synaptic and ion channel function. This diagnosis should be suspected based on subacute onset, short term memory loss, altered mental status or psychiatric symptoms in combination with new focal neurological deficits, new onset seizures, CSF pleocytosis or MRI features suggestive of encephalitis. As this is a treatable condition, with a good prognosis if recognised early, it is important not to miss the diagnosis.

Keywords: Autoimmune encephalitis

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