Late-onset ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency: Treatment and outcome of hyperammonemic crisis

Kelly R. Bergmann, James McCabe, T. Ryan Smith, Daniel J. Guillaume, Kyriakie Sarafoglou, Sameer Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Hyperammonemic crises in ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC) can be associated with devastating cerebral edema resulting in severe long-term neurologic impairment and death. We present an 8-year-old boy who had late-onset OTC deficiency in which early and aggressive management of hyperammonemia and associated cerebral edema, including therapeutic hypothermia and barbiturateinduced coma, resulted in favorable neurologic outcome. Our patient presented with vomiting and altered mental status, and was found to have a significantly elevated serum ammonia level of 1561 mmol/L. Hyperammonemia was managed with hemodialysis, 10% sodium phenylacetate, 10% sodium benzoate, L-arginine, intravenous 10% dextrose, intralipids, and protein restriction. He developed significant cerebral edema with intracranial pressures >20 mm Hg, requiring treatment with 3% saline and mannitol. Despite this treatment our patient continued to have elevated intracranial pressures, which were treated aǵǵressively with non-conventional modalities including therapeutic hypothermia, barbiturate-induced coma, and external ventricular drainage. This therapy resulted in stabilization of hyperammonemia and resolution of cerebral edema. Molecular testing later revealed a hemizygous mutation within the OTC ǵene. Neuropsycholoǵical testing 1 year after discharǵe showed normal intelligence with no visualmotor deficits, minor deficits in working memory and processing speed, and slightly below average processing speed and executive functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1072-e1076
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Barbiturates
  • Cerebral edema
  • Hyperammonemia
  • Induced hypothermia
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency
  • Inborn errors of metabolism

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