A 55-year-old man presented with fever, malaise, dysarthria, and intermittent twitching of his right hand. He progressed rapidly to aphasia, intractable myoclonic seizures, and unresponsiveness. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head demonstrated multiple nonenhancing areas of signal abnormality involving the cortex of both cerebral hemispheres. Extensive evaluation revealed no infectious cause for his symptoms. Muscle acetylcholine receptor binding and modulating antibodies, striational antibodies, and a neuronal autoantibody specific for collapsin response-mediator protein were detected. An invasive thymoma was discovered and resected. Brain biopsy revealed microglial activation, gliosis, and scant perivascular lymphocytic inflammation. His condition worsened despite treatment with anticonvulsants, intravenous corticosteroids, and antimicrobials. Plasma exchange was performed. The myoclonus stopped; he regained consciousness and gradually improved to the point that he could talk and ambulate with assistance. An MRI revealed regression of the lesions with residual cortical atrophy. This case demonstrates that paraneoplastic encephalitis may occur with thymoma and may extend to cortical regions outside the limbic system.
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