Abstract
Introduction: Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP) is a rare and potentially lethal complication of hyperthyroidism. It is characterized by sudden onset paralysis associated with hypokalemia. Management includes prompt normalization of potassium, which results in resolution of the paralysis. Definitive treatment of hyperthyroidism resolves TPP completely. 
Case presentation: A 23-year-old African American male patient presented to the emergency room at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, USA in November 2016 with sudden onset quadriplegia. He also endorsed a history of weight loss, palpitations, heat intolerance and tremors. The patient reported similar episodes of quadriplegia in the past, which were associated with hypokalemia and resolved with normalization of potassium levels. Physical examination was significant for exophthalmos, smooth goiter with bruit consistent with the diagnosis of Graves’ disease. Laboratory assessment showed severe hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, suppressed thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and high free thyroxine (T4). Urine potassium creatinine ratio was less than one, indicating transcellular shift as the cause of hypokalemia. After normalization of potassium and magnesium, the paralysis resolved in 12 hours. He was started on methimazole. On follow up, the patient was clinically and biochemically euthyroid with no further episodes of paralysis. 
Take-away lesson: TPP is a rare and reversible cause of paralysis. Physicians need to be aware of the diagnostic and treatment modalities as delayed recognition in treatment could result in potential harm or unnecessary interventions.

 

 
Keywords: Thyrotoxicosis, Hypokalemia, Periodic paralysis, Graves’ disease, Hyperthyroidism

 

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