Optic Neuritis as the Initial Clinical Presentation of Limbic Encephalitis

A Case Report

Stephanie S. L. Cheung; Gary K. K. Lau; Koon-Ho Chan; Ian Y. H. Wong; Jimmy S. M. Lai; Wai Kiu Tang; Kendrick C. Shih


J Med Case Reports. 2019;12(357) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Limbic encephalitis is characterized by rapid onset of working memory deficit, mood changes, and often seizures. The condition has a strong paraneoplastic association, but not all cases are invariably due to tumors.

Case presentation: We present a case of limbic encephalitis in a Chinese patient who initially presented to our hospital with optic neuritis and no other neurological symptoms. The diagnosis was made radiologically, and cognitive and neurological symptoms did not occur until 5 months later. Extensive investigations for autoimmune, infective, and neoplastic causes were all negative. A working diagnosis of paraneoplastic neurological syndrome was made, and the patient is being managed with high-dose steroid therapy according to the Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial protocol during relapses, as well as with tumor surveillance.

Conclusions: This case highlights ocular symptoms as important clues for diagnosing neurological diseases, as well as autoimmune encephalitis as an important differential diagnosis in the management of "idiopathic" optic neuritis in the Chinese population.