Monday, February 12, 2018

Hemiplegia History-taking : Case-related Clinical Pearls

Hi everyone !
Just a short summary of what not to miss in your case taking of a Hemiplegia case - on the Boards or the Wards ! Here goes.

In the History of Present Illness
- Ask Onset - Time of onset very imp. And sudden or gradual. (To decide Ischemic or Hemorrhagic)

- Progress - If maximal at onset -- likely embolic. If progressive gradually -- Thrombotic stroke. If rapidly progressive -- Hemorrhagic stroke. 

- Hemiplegia / Paresis - what position was pt in ;
Upper Limb (UL) more than Lower Limb (LL) or equal. 
( Proximal UL = Raise hands above head to take an object/Comb hair ;
Distal UL = Button Tee shirt or Eat food.
Proximal LL = Get up from Squatting position
Distal LL = Walking).

- Ask for facial deviation ; Drooling of food after feeding ? -- Facial palsy 
- Hemianaesthesia - ask for sensory loss or paraesthesias. 

- The Episode -->

• Seizures ? Urinary / faecal incontinence?  - suggests increased severity / Cortical involvement

Speech disturbances ?
- Likely cortical lesion if Aphasia ; or dysarthria due to UMN lesions

•Symptoms of cranial nerves --> Vision changes, Diplopia , Facial sensations , repeated aspiration of food , tongue problems. ( Localise the lesion to Brainstem)

• Gets better for a while and then Symptoms re appear - Lucid interval of extradural Hemorrhage

• Preceded by headache, vomiting , photophobia ?
( Meningitis/ SAH or PCA stroke) (Thunderclap headache in SAH) 

• Any h/o Alcoholism / Trauma - Could be Subdural Hemorrhage

Always rule out a simple Syncopal episode and a plain Seizure.

In the Past History :
- H/O similar episodes - how were they treated and what were the residual deficits.
- H/O similar episodes that spontaneously resolved - TIA's
- H/O Other occlusive events - Myocardial Infarction, Peripheral Vascular Disease , Pulmonary embolism
- Ask h/o heart disease - Skipped beats for Atrial Fibrillation and other Valvular problems.

What is expected out of the history-taking for Stroke :

1. What is the topographic distribution of weakness -
Hemiplegia / Monoplegia / Quadriplegia / Diplegia

2. Is the likely Etiology a vascular event in the Cerebral Circulation?
(From : typical elderly to middle aged presentation in a Hypertensive , Diabetic patient with sudden onset Focal Neurological deficit).

3. If fairly certain that this is Vascular : is it Thrombotic , Embolic or Hemorrhagic ?

4. What is the possible site of lesion in terms of :
A. Structure(s) involved
B. Vessel involved

Quick Rules of Thumb for diagnosis of CVA on history

<> Thrombotic Strokes have an insiduous onset , are progressive in their deficit but gradually , and may occur during earlier hours of the day.

<> Embolic Strokes have a sudden onset and are non progressive - Maximal deficit at onset ; May have History of Atrial Fibrillation or Valvular Heart disease and may have H/O recurrent emboli.

<> Hemorrhagic strokes are sudden in onset , very rapidly progressive and may be Preceded by Thunderclap headache in Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Almost invariably the patient is hypertensive.

<> RISS = Rapidly Improving Stroke Symptoms are a feature of TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) - generally resolving within about an hour , but the technical definition is the Deficit relieving in 24 hours or lesser.

<> Diabetic patients on Insulin must be watched out for Hypoglycemia which is highly common.

<> If no focal deficits and just a 'Confused' state of the patient or Diffuse CNS features must prompt a search for Electrolyte imbalance especially in the elderly for a Metabolic Encephalopathy.

<> Hypertensive Encephalopathy must be suspected if the patient is an Uncontrolled Hypertensive and has headaches and evidence of End organ damage.

<> Todd's palsy must be suspected in a young man who has recurrent attacks of 'Apparent Paresis' that occurs after some form of a seizure - it's a post ictal confused state.

<> Acephalgic Migraine is a rare form of Migraine where the headache is absent. So the patient would experience an Aura , go through non ache features of migraine and then followed by post migraine weakness.
The weakness can be perceived as a stroke.

Hope this was helpful !
Will be doing another one on stuff not to miss on examination and the questions asked generally!
Happy studying !
Stay Awesome !

~ A.P.Burkholderia


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