Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 103–105

Prolonged Cerebellar Ataxia: An Unusual Complication of Hypoglycemia

Case Reports/Clinical Vignettes

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0407-x

Cite this article as:
Berz, J.P.B. & Orlander, J.D. J GEN INTERN MED (2008) 23: 103. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0407-x


A 51-year-old male with a history of insulin-dependent diabetes and polysubstance abuse presented after overdose on insulin. Soon after resuscitation, he displayed a severe ataxia in all 4 limbs and was unable to walk; all of which persisted for at least 5 days. Laboratory testing was unrevealing, including relatively normal brain magnetic resonance imaging. He had recovered full neurologic function 3 months after the event. This report describes a case of reversible cerebellar ataxia as a rare complication of severe hypoglycemia that may occur in patients with abnormal cerebellar glucose metabolism. Thus, this phenomenon should be included in the differential diagnosis of patients with a history of hypoglycemia who present with ataxia. In this context, the differential diagnosis of cerebellar ataxia is discussed, as is the proposed mechanism for hypoglycemia-induced cerebellar dysfunction.

KEY WORDS hypoglycemia ataxia diabetes mellitus 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evans Department of MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Boston Medical CenterBostonUSA
  3. 3.VA Boston HealthCare SystemBostonUSA

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