Dubai: Doctors at a Dubai hospital have received international recognition for a correct diagnosis of a brain disease that affects just 1 in 30,000 people.
Doctors from the Neurology Department at Rashid Hospital made the diagnosis of Huntingdon’s disease on a 37-year-old patient.
Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.
It affects the person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking and psychiatric disorders.
While medications are available to help manage the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, treatment cannot prevent the physical, mental and behavioural decline associated with the condition.
“The 37-year-old patient suffered from abnormal movement since the age of 31,” said Dr Abu Bakr Al Madani, Head of Neurology Department at Rashid Hospital.
“Due to a lack of family history and hard evidence of neurological disease, he was determined a malinger [a person who pretends to have symptoms of mental or physical disorders].”
However, in 2016, the patient was brought again because his symptoms progressed noticeably in the last year.
He was found to suffer from mental function deterioration. These included symptoms such as finding it difficult to speak or swallow. He also suffered from weight loss, and involuntary movements affecting the face especially the lips and tongue.
The patient then had a brain MRI, which showed that his brain was atrophying — or wasting away.
“That’s when the Huntington disease was suspected and the genetic testing was ordered,” said Al Madani.
Following more tests, the disease was confirmed.
“After this case we found that due to the fact that the prevalence of Huntington’s gene is not known,” the doctor added.
“It should be suspected in any young onset of abnormal movement … and Malingering should be the last diagnosis to be considered.”
The doctors also found that family history can give a “strong clue” for the diagnosis.