Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), the most common muscular dystrophy in adults, is an autosomal dominant disorder with a wide phenotypic spectrum ranging from oligosymptomatic forms to a life-threatening, multisystem disease. People with DM1 overall have a reduced life expectancy, mainly due to respiratory or cardiac causes. There is no cure but prompt, appropriate symptom management is essential to limit disease-related complications. We present a case of DM1, unrecognised when the patient presented with recurrent type 2 respiratory failure, and initially misdiagnosed as Guillain-Barré syndrome. This misdiagnosis subsequently led to unnecessary investigation and treatment before further detailed neurological examination and collateral family history gave the diagnosis. This case highlights the importance of considering a chronic neuromuscular disorder in patients presenting with acute respiratory failure and an unusual pattern of weakness.
- Myotonic dystrophy
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Contributors CK, AT and VA wrote the manuscript, CK, VA and BM reviewed, edited and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Consent obtained directly from patient(s).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Jon Walters, Swansea, UK.