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Oophorectomy in NMDA receptor encephalitis and negative pelvic imaging


Ovarian teratomas are found in one-third of females presenting with anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis. When a teratoma is detected on imaging, its removal is first-line therapy. Even with multiple imaging modalities, occasionally, the teratoma is found only on subsequent imaging, long after initial presentation. Very rarely, patients have undergone oophorectomy despite negative imaging, with pathology demonstrating teratoma, and resulting clinical improvement. We present a patient in whom removal of a teratoma, not visible on conventional imaging, resulted in marked clinical improvement. Such cases present a major clinical challenge, needing to consider the risks of oophorectomy, including sterilisation and early menopause, versus the possibility of death in the absence of response to first-line (eg, corticosteroids, plasma exchange, intravenous immunoglobulin), second-line (eg, rituximab) and third-line (eg, bortezomib) immunosuppression. This decision is made more difficult as patients are usually females of childbearing age who at the time lack capacity to make medical decisions. This case also highlights the lack of consensus and guidelines for imaging modalities used to detect teratoma and when to pursue oophorectomy.

  • NMDA
  • Intensive care
  • genitourinary medicine
  • paraneoplastic syndrome
  • quality of life

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  • Editors’ commentary
    Phil E M Smith Geraint N Fuller

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