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01.12.2019 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2019

Epilepsia partialis continua complicated by disseminated tuberculosis and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2019
Gashirai K. Mbizvo, Isabel C. Lentell, Clifford Leen, Huw Roddie, Christopher P. Derry, Susan E. Duncan, Kristiina Rannikmäe
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13256-019-2092-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



We describe a patient copresenting with epilepsia partialis continua, tuberculosis, and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. To our knowledge, this is the first documented case of this triad.

Case presentation

A 54-year-old black South African woman presented to a hospital in Scotland with an acute history of right-sided facial twitching, breathlessness, and several months of episodic night sweats. Clinical examination revealed pyrexia and continuous, stereotyped, right-sided facial contractions. These worsened with speech and continued through sleep. A clinical diagnosis of epilepsia partialis continua was made, and we provide a video of her seizures. Computed tomographic imaging of the chest and serous fluid analyses were consistent with a diagnosis of disseminated Mycobacterium tuberculosis. An additional diagnosis of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis was made following the identification of pancytopenia and hyperferritinemia in peripheral blood, with hemophagocytosis evident in bone marrow investigation. We provide images of her hematopathology. The patient was extremely unwell and was hospitalized for 6 months, including two admissions to the intensive care unit for ventilatory support. She was treated successfully with high doses of antiepileptic drugs (benzodiazepines, levetiracetam, and phenytoin) and 12 months of oral antituberculosis therapy, and she underwent chemotherapy with 8 weeks of etoposide and dexamethasone for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, followed by 12 months of cyclosporine and prednisolone.


This combination of pathologies is unusual, and this case report helps educate clinicians on how such a patient may present and be managed. A lack of evidence surrounding the coexpression of this triad may represent absolute rarity, underdiagnosis, or incomplete case ascertainment due to early death caused by untreated tuberculosis or hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. Further research is needed.

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