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Christopher Dardis, Ariel Antezana, Kurenai Tanji, Paul J Maccabee
(Department of Neurology, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, USA)
Am J Case Rep 2017; 18:700-706
Sporadic inclusion body myositis (IBM) is the most common acquired myopathy seen in adults aged over 50 years, with a prevalence estimated at between 1 and 70 per million. Weakness of the diaphragm with loss of vital capacity is almost universal in IBM. This is almost always asymptomatic. When respiratory complications occur, they are most often due to aspiration. Respiratory failure due to diaphragmatic weakness is exceptionally rare, particularly as the presenting symptom of the disease. It is not currently considered to be a paraneoplastic syndrome.
CASE REPORT: Our patient presented with hypercarbic respiratory failure. This is the first such reported case without signs of weakness elsewhere of which we are aware. We suspected IBM based on her history of progressive weakness and findings on electromyography. There was a delay of 5 years in obtaining biopsy for confirmation, during which she presented with recurrent episodes of respiratory failure despite using non-invasive ventilation. An autopsy revealed the presence of papillary thyroid carcinoma with spread to local lymph nodes. On the basis that these co-morbidities are unlikely to have occurred by chance (we estimate 1×10–17), we hypothesize that IBM may be a paraneoplastic condition. We acknowledge that proof would require demonstrating a pathogenic antibody.
CONCLUSIONS: IBM should be considered in older patients (age >45) presenting with otherwise unexplained respiratory failure. A workup for possible malignancy in this setting appears reasonable.