Overview: This study reports a case of a 5-year old boy with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and paroxysmal autonomic instability syndrome with dystonia (PAISD) after non-fatal drowning who was treated with hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy.
Conclusion: This case highlights the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of paroxysmal autonomic instability syndrome with dystonia (PAISD) and the potential benefit of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy, even in the subacute phase, in recovery of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
Paroxysmal autonomic instability syndrome with dystonia (PAISD) is a possible complication that worsens the prognosis of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy related to non-fatal drowning. There are case reports of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy enhancing recovery in such cases. We report a case of a 5-year-old boy admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after a non-fatal drowning. He was transferred under mechanical ventilation and sedation, with hemodynamic instability and hypothermia. On admission he had a Glasgow Coma Score of 6. On the fifth day of admission he presented episodes of dystonia with decerebration posture, diaphoresis, tachycardia and hypertension, sometimes with identified triggers, suggesting PAISD. The episodes were difficult to control; multiple drugs were needed. Electroencephalography showed diffuse slow wave activity, and cranioencephalic magnetic resonance imaging showed hypoxia-related lesions, suggesting hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Early after admission the patient started physiotherapy combined with normobaric oxygen therapy. Subsequently he started HBO2 therapy at 2 atmospheres, with a total of 66 sessions. Dystonia progressively subsided, with gradual discontinuation of therapy. He also showed improvement in spasticity, non-verbal communication and cephalic control. This case highlights the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of PAISD and the potential benefit of HBO2 therapy, even in the subacute phase, in recovery of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.