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Reversible congestive heart failure associated with primary carnitin deficiency: report of a case and review of the literature.
Title of the conference
Gemeinsame Jahrestagung der SGK, SGSM, SGPK, SGHC und SHG
Basel, Schweiz, 8.-10. Juni 2011
A 5-year-old previously healthy boy was admitted for abdominal pain and vomiting. Physical examination showed tachypnoe (32/min), hepatomegaly and painful palpation of the upper right abdominal quadrant. Laboratory tests were normal except for elevated ammonium (202mcmol/l). Chest X-ray was performed, showing cardiomegaly and interstitial edema. Transthoracic echocardiography revealed dilated left cavities and LV hypertrophy together with a diffuse hypokinesia and LVEF of 30-40%. Diuretics and ACE-inhibitors were introduced. At that time, the differential diagnosis for the DCM included myocarditis, congenital or genetic, metabolic or autoimmune disease. The next day, the boy underwent cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) examination, showing a severe dilatation of the LV with an end-diastolic diameter of 50mm and a volume of 150ml. LVEF was 20% with diffuse LV hypokinesia (Fig. 1). No late enhancement was present after Gadolinium injection, ruling out myocarditis. Further laboratory metabolic analysis indicated severely decreased total and free carnitin levels and low renal carnitin reabsorption, corroborating the diagnosis of primary carnitin deficiency (PCD). Carnitin substitution was initiated. The clinical condition rapidly improved. No symptoms of heart failure were present anymore. A follow-up CMR performed 9 months later confirmed the recovery. LV end-diastolic volume decreased from 150ml to 66ml, LVEF increased from 20% to 55% (Fig. 2). Late enhancement was absent after Gadolinum injection (Fig. 3).Carnitin is required for the transport of fatty acids from the cytosol into mitochondria during lipid breakdown. 75% of carnitin is obtained from food, 25% is endogenously synthesized. PCD is an autosomal recessive disorder resulting from impairment of a transporter activity, caused by mutation of the SLC22A5 gene. Incidence is about 1 in 40'000 newborns. Diagnosis is usually made at age 1 to 7. Three forms of PCD are described. In the form associated with cardiomyopathy, the disease is progressive and patient die from heart failure if not treated. Substitution of L-Carnitin leads to a dramatic improvement of disease course.This case underlines the crucial role of etiologic diagnostics in this reversible form of DCM. Early diagnostics and therapy are critical for the prognosis of the patient. This is furthermore an example of a role played by CMR in the diagnostic work-up of heart failure and its follow-up under therapy.
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