Journal of Neurology

, Volume 243, Issue 8, pp 585–593

Encephalopathy associated with Hashimoto thyroiditis: Diagnosis and treatment

  • I. Kothbauer-Margreiter
  • M. Sturzenegger
  • J. Komor
  • R. Baumgartner
  • C. W. Hess
Original Communication


Six patients with Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) and associated encephalopathy (HE) are described and compared with 14 well-documented cases retrieved from the literature. HE typically affects patients when they are euthyroid and, in an appropriate clinical situation, antithyroid autoantibodies are the main indicators of HE. Since clinical features of HE are unspecific, other aetiologies such as infectious, metabolic, toxic, vascular, neoplastic, and paraneoplastic causes have to be excluded. Our own six cases and those from the literature show that two types of initial clinical presentation can be differentiated: a vasculitic type with stroke-like episodes and mild cognitive impairment in nine patients, and a diffuse progressive type with dementia, seizures, psychotic episodes or altered consciousness in 11 patients. These types may overlap, particularly in the long-term course without treatment. Response to steroids was usually excellent with complete remission in 80%. Eighteen of the 20 patients were women. Characteristic, though unspecific, findings were abnormal EEG (90%) and CSF (80%). Together with quantitative neuropsychological testing, these proved sensitive for monitoring the efficacy of therapy. Conversely, antithyroid autoantibody titres did not correlate with the severity or type of clinical presentation. The link between HE and HT is not clear. A pathogenetic role for antithyroid autoantibodies in the central nervous system seems unlikely.

Key words

Hashimoto thyroiditis Encephalopathy Antithyroid autoantibodies Autoimmune disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Kothbauer-Margreiter
    • 1
  • M. Sturzenegger
    • 1
  • J. Komor
    • 1
  • R. Baumgartner
    • 1
  • C. W. Hess
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurologische KlinikBernSwitzerland

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