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Orbitocerebral mucormycosis and intracranial haemorrhage: a role for caution with steroids in suspected giant cell arteritis


A 75-year-old man with type 2 diabetes mellitus presented with complete loss of vision in his right eye and severe headaches for the past 24 hours. He had been treated for suspected giant cell arteritis (GCA) with high-dose corticosteroids which were being tapered to stop after an inconclusive right temporal artery biopsy and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) value of 8. His current acute presentation, however, raised further concern for partially treated GCA and precipitated treatment with pulsed methylprednisolone. The patient, taking metformin, developed diabetic ketoacidosis and was transferred to the intensive care unit where a swollen, painful right eye with chemosis and complete ophthalmoplegia was subsequently revealed to be secondary to cavernous sinus thrombosis. Rhino-orbital skin necrosis with positive samples for the organism Rhizopus on eventual orbital exenteration revealed angioinvasive fungal infection, mucormycosis, to be the cause. We discuss here the lessons learnt, and how best to treat a susceptible cohort within our ageing western population.

  • neurosurgery
  • infectious diseases
  • vasculitis
  • neuroimaging
  • contraindications and precautions

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