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Very late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia with rapid course mimicking as possible multiple system atrophy cerebellar type


This 55-year-old man was admitted to the hospital with an insidious onset, progressive backward fall (due to severe truncal ataxia), dysarthria, stiffness in extremities, distal dominant muscle wasting along with behavioural changes and urinary incontinence. Clinical assessment indicated mild cognitive decline (Mini-Mental State Examination 22/27) with cerebellar, pyramidal and peripheral nerves involvement. On investigations, nerve conduction studies revealed symmetrical, sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy affecting both lower limbs. Brain and whole spine MRI revealed widespread cerebral and mild cerebellar atrophy, pons and medulla volume loss, and a normal spinal cord. Transthoracic echocardiography revealed concentric left ventricular hypertrophy. His gene analysis revealed eight GAA repeats on allele 1, and 37 GAA repeats on allele 2 in the first intron of the frataxin gene. Considering his clinical profile and genetic analysis, he was diagnosed as a case of very late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia with likely compound heterozygous genotype.

  • brain stem / cerebellum
  • neurology
  • spinal cord

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