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01.12.2017 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2017

Choreoathetosis – an unusual adverse effect of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2017
Benjamin Momo Kadia, Christian Morfaw, Armelle Corrine Gounoue Simo



Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine which is highly effective in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Its adverse effects are generally tolerable and temporary. Choreoathetosis, an involuntary movement disorder characterized by continuous irregular twisting of the body, is not a documented adverse effect of this medication.

Case presentation

A 41-year-old Cameroonian man of black African ethnicity was brought to our primary care hospital because over the previous 6 hours he had been experiencing involuntary twisting movements of his body and he no longer had control of his limbs. Earlier that day, he had been prescribed an appropriate dose of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in our hospital. The abnormal movements started approximately 3 hours after ingesting the first dose of the drug. The review of systems and his past history were unremarkable. On clinical examination, he was conscious and oriented but was unsteady and displayed continuous generalized irregular twisting movements combined with abrupt low amplitude flinging of his limbs. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine-induced generalized choreoathetosis was diagnosed. He was sedated with diazepam and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine was discontinued. The antimalarial drug was substituted with artemether-lumefantrine combination. The clinical progress was good and he was discharged home after 72 hours. No further abnormalities were noted during 7 months of follow-up.


Although dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is increasingly popular as a well-tolerated/efficacious antimalarial drug, clinicians must note the rare possibility of choreoathetosis as an adverse effect of this medication and educate patients accordingly.

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