Neurocritical Care

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 296–297 | Cite as

Flaccid Quadriplegia Due to Thyrotoxic Myopathy

  • Philippe CouillardEmail author
  • Eelco F. M. Wijdicks
Practical Pearl



Acute flaccid paralysis is an important clinical problem in neurological critical care. After implementing life-supporting measures, it is imperative to identify the correct diagnosis to provide timely appropriate care. Thyrotoxicosis is a recognized cause of myopathy, but rarely of quadriplegia. Here, we report a case of hyperthyroidism with severe weakness.


Case report and video demonstration of clinical examination.


We describe a case of a 59-year-old woman with Grave’s disease who presented to the hospital with progressive shortness of breath secondary to atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. Following contrast administration, she had a pulseless electrical activity arrest from which she recovered without cognitive sequelae, but with flaccid quadriplegia, facial diplegia, and hypophonia. CK was mildly elevated and electrolytes were essentially normal. Nerve conduction studies and electromyography demonstrated features supporting an acute myopathy without evidence of neuromuscular junction conduction abnormality.


Normalization of thyroid hormones resulted in slow, but steady improvement over months after which she regained ambulation. Acute flaccid quadriplegia can result from thyrotoxicosis. With normalization of thyroid function, recovery can be expected.


Weakness Thyroid Myopathy 

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MPG 28174 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Critical Care Neurology, Department of NeurologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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