Brief Report| Volume 64, ISSUE 2, P200-207, February 2023

Thyrotoxic Periodic Paralysis: An Under-Recognized Cause of Paralysis in Young Hispanic Men

  • Andrew Gulde
    Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
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  • Shuyao Zhang
    Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
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  • Iram Hussain
    Reprint Address: Iram Hussain, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-8537
    Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
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      Patients presenting to the emergency department with paralysis can have a wide differential diagnosis. Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP) is a rare disorder causing transient flaccid paralysis in the setting of thyrotoxicosis and hypokalemia. It has been reported in Asian male populations predominantly, and the diagnosis is rarely considered in non-Asian populations. Recent research has identified cases in patients with diverse ethnic backgrounds, although epidemiologic data from the United States are very limited.


      Our aim was to report our experience with TPP at a tertiary care center in the United States.


      A retrospective chart review was conducted between January 2006 and February 2022 to identify cases of TPP and determine their demographic and clinical characteristics. Prevalence of TPP was estimated using the institutional hyperthyroidism registry.


      Thirty-three patients with TPP were identified. All of the patients were male; median age was 28 years, and 85% were Hispanic. All patients had hypokalemia at presentation and 23% had rebound hyperkalemia after treatment. Prevalence of TPP in our population of patients with hyperthyroidism was approximately 0.5%.


      Young Hispanic men presenting with paralysis should be evaluated for TPP, as the prevalence in this population may be higher than estimated previously. Management of TPP involves treatment of underlying hyperthyroidism and cautious potassium repletion, with an initial dose of no more than 60 mEq/L of potassium chloride to avoid rebound hyperkalemia.


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