Mayo Moments

Friday, 16 December 2011

Neurological Differential Diagnosis

I feel like I am living an episode of House.

You know the part where House and his entourage sit around the office throwing out possible syndromes/diseases/disorders?  That is called a "Differential". And you know the part where he chooses one syndrome/disease/disorder that the others don't agree with?  Well that is kind of what happened at McMaster.

We got to McMaster only to find out they had mailed us a postponement letter pushing Leah's appointment back to the 19th.  Obviously we didn't get that letter so they agreed to see us anyway.  They went off in search of a Resident  who didn't have a caseload that day and found us Dr. Fudge.

Dr. Fudge and his student did a very thorough history and physical exam.  When I say thorough I really mean thorough - it lasted for almost 2 hours!  They asked tons of questions, and did a neuro assessment on Leah.  Then they left to go discuss it with Dr. Callen and his team. 

We could literally hear them doing the differential, and we saw them looking at her MRI.  Then they all toddled back into our room and began the explanation of their thought process and gave us a "working diagnosis".

According to Dr. Callen he would be "flabbergasted" if the tests he has ordered for Leah come back as negative for Narcolepsy with Cataplexy

So our working diagnosis is Narcolepsy.  Strangely enough, it was mentioned in a couple of comments from a reader at the very beginning and was discarded as I didn't feel Leah met the criteria.  I still don't think it really fits as so many of her problems are not included in the symptom lists.  No matter, regardless of how sceptical I (and others) may be, we are just so darn glad that we are moving forward.

They have sent of the paperwork for the government grant necessary to do the genetic testing in Boston.  This testing will tell us if she has the genetic form of narcolepsy.  They are scheduling a polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). 

Basically those tests will tell us if she slips into REM sleep much more quickly than the norm.

They encouraged (can you believe it!?!?!) us to research Narcolepsy and become very familiar with it.  One of the first things we saw was the Epworth Sleepiness Scale   My mother and I score very high on it, so I guess a genetic link is possible (note to self: call the doctor for a sleep study for me!)

As well, he has agreed to do the test for Lyme disease!  He actually considered the probability of a positive finding.  You could see him thinking - he thinks like I do...rolls his eyes upwards as if he is looking at a mental chalkboard.  :)  He doesn't think it is going to show a positive result but he said it was a simple addition to the bloodwork he was already ordering.

So keeping with the "House" theme, I fully expect the tests to come back negative for Narcolepsy, and then they will pick something else to investigate.  And I am okay with that as long as they continue to investigate. And I know that at some random moment, Dr. Callen's eyes will gloss over and random thoughts and ideas will suddenly converge to give him the magical diagnosis that will set Leah's life back on the right track!

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