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Table of Contents    
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 161-163

A Rare Etiology of Hypocalcemic Seizures in Adulthood: Clues to Diagnosis from Facial Dysmorphism

1 Departments of Endocrinology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
2 General Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
3 Department of Medical Genetics, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission19-May-2020
Date of Decision19-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance13-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Kriti Joshi
Department of Endocrinology AIIMS Rishikesh, Virbhadra Road, Rishikesh - 249 203, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.310108

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 » Abstract 

We report a 40-year-old male who presented with seizures due to hypocalcemia. Biochemical evaluation revealed the diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism. The symptom complex of dysmorphic facies and intellectual disability along with hypoparathyroidism led to a suspicion of 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), which was confirmed by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) analysis showing 22q11.2.21 microdeletion.

Keywords: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), DiGeorge syndrome, hypocalcemia, hypoparathyroidism
Key Message: 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) can present in adulthood with hypocalemia in the absence of other classic features of this condition. Physicians need to be aware of this entity as it has important health implications for the patient and for future family planning.

How to cite this article:
Batra N, Kant R, Mandal K, Joshi K. A Rare Etiology of Hypocalcemic Seizures in Adulthood: Clues to Diagnosis from Facial Dysmorphism. Neurol India 2021;69:161-3

How to cite this URL:
Batra N, Kant R, Mandal K, Joshi K. A Rare Etiology of Hypocalcemic Seizures in Adulthood: Clues to Diagnosis from Facial Dysmorphism. Neurol India [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Apr 23];69:161-3. Available from:

Hypoparathyroidism in adults usually occurs in the setting of acquired conditions such as iatrogenic damage due to neck surgery or an autoimmune process.[1] Hypoparathyroidism due to 22q11.2DS is an unusual cause of hypocalcemia presenting in adulthood and therefore there is limited awareness of this phenotype in the general medical community. A diagnosis of 22q11.2DS has important implications as it has a multisystemic involvement with a varied phenotypic presentation. Timely diagnosis of individuals with the condition would lead to an improved long term outcome and also help in genetic counselling of affected families.[2] We report a patient who presented with hypocalcemia due to 22q11.2DS for the first time in the fifth decade of life. Our case highlights that 22q11.2DS can have a delayed presentation in adulthood and that subtle clinical signs may provide a clue to the diagnosis.

 » Case History Top

A 40-year-old male presented to the emergency department with a history of two episodes of seizures since the morning of the day of presentation, with seven to eight similar episodes in the past month. The seizures were generalized tonic clonic in type, associated with loss of consciousness and lasted for a few minutes followed by self recovery. There was no associated history of headache, fever, vomiting or blurring of vision.

On enquiry there was a history of perioral tingling and numbness with intermittent muscle cramps for the last few months before the onset of clinical seizures; however, no medical care was sought for these symptoms. There was no previous history of seizures; however, a significant history of delayed attainment of speech and motor milestones in childhood was elicited. The patient also had a profound learning disability to the extent that he could not complete even primary school and was currently employed as an unskilled labourer. He also had a notable past history of having undergone cataract surgery in both eyes at the relatively young age of 35 years. There was no relevant history of previous surgery, autoimmune disorders, recurrent infections, cardiac or renal involvement, or similar illness in the family. The patient was married with two children, both apparently healthy with no history of seizures or problems with intellect.

On examination, patient was conscious, well oriented to time, place, and person. He was found to have short stature with a height of 152.2 cm (mid parental height: 169 cm), weight 48 kg and body mass index (BMI) of 20.7 kg/m2. He had abnormal facies in form of bulbous nose, overfolded ear helices, and elongated face [Figure 1]. There was no evidence of any dental or palatal abnormalities. Trousseau sign was elicitable at the time of presentation. Systemic examination was unremarkable.
Figure 1: Dysmorphic facies: Elongated face, Bulbous nose and thick folded ears

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Laboratory investigations revealed hypocalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, and low serum PTH [Table 1]; therefore, hypocalcemia secondary to hypoparathyroidism was diagnosed. Brain computed tomography showed multiple patchy and confluent areas of calcifications in bilateral frontal, parietal, occipital, thalami, gangliocapsular regions, and cerebellar hemispheres [Figure 2]. The patient had a prolonged QTc interval of 480 ms (<450 ms, males) and therefore intravenous calcium gluconate was given as a bolus dose followed by infusion at 1 mg elemental calcium/kg/h with concomitant oral calcium, magnesium replacement and vitamin D analogues.
Table 1: Biochemical profile of the patient at the time of presentation

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Figure 2: CT Head showing multiple calcifications in Cerebral cortex, Basal ganglia region and bilateral cerebellar hemispheres

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Hypoparathyroidism in association with learning disabilities, short stature, and facial dysmorphism led to the suspicion of 22q11 microdeletion syndrome (22q11.2DS). Hence, MLPA analysis was done, which showed heterozygous deletion at 22q11.2.21 [Figure 3] suggestive of 22q11.2DS. Further investigations including transthoracic echocardiography, renal ultrasonography and audiometry were normal. He had no neuropsychiatric manifestations. Genetic counselling was given to him and his family. The patient was discharged with advice to take 2000 mg elemental calcium and 0.5 μg calcitriol twice daily. During subsequent follow-up, his calcium levels were maintained in the low normal range and there was no recurrence of hypocalcemic symptoms or seizures.
Figure 3: MLPA analysis of patient showing heterozygous deletion at 22q11.2.21

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 » Discussion Top

22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), formerly known as DiGeorge syndrome or Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS), is one of the most common microdeletions with a reported incidence as high as 1:4000 livebirths;[3] however, it is often underdiagnosed due to high variability in the phenotypic features.[4]

Most patients receive a diagnosis in childhood due to the presence of cardiac anomalies, immune deficiency from thymic hypoplasia, and hypocalcemia;[5] however, a delayed presentation and diagnosis in adulthood, as in our case, has been reported.[6] Cardiac defects are typically the initial abnormalities noted in children and commonly include conotruncal defects such as interrupted aortic arch, truncus arteriosus, tetralogy of fallot, atrial or ventricular septal defects, and vascular rings. Palatal abnormalities, feeding difficulties, genitourinary anomalies, and developmental delay are other common presentations seen in childhood.[5],[7],[8]

Adult presentations of 22q11.2DS have limited descriptions and in the largest available retrospective case series of 126 adults with DGS, 60% were parents of affected children, and the others were patients in craniofacial, cardiology, genetics, and psychiatry clinics.[9] Hypocalcemia as the first presentation of 22q11.2DS in adulthood can be an atypical isolated manifestation of this syndrome even in the absence of other classical features and has been described in adults who presented in a similar manner to our case.[6],[10],[11]

Our patient presented with the features of late onset hypocalcemia at the age of 40. Associated dysmorphic facies, short stature, and intellectual impairment led to a suspicion of 22q11.2DS. The patient did not show any other typical 22q11DS-associated cardiac, velopharyngeal, renal or psychiatric problems. Although the reason for the late onset hypocalcemia/hypoparathyroidism in our patient is unclear, we speculate that he may have had a reduced parathyroid reserve with normocalcemia, to begin with[12],[13] and became frankly hypocalcemic in response to a stressor which could be severe co-existent vitamin D and magnesium deficiency. It is likely that he had longstanding subclinical hypocalcemia as supported by the presence of brain calcifications and remained symptom-free due to the slow decline in parathyroid reserve.

Adult patients with 22q11.2DS have a different spectrum of clinical manifestations when compared to children, with lower rates of cardiac anomalies (30%) and higher rates of palatal abnormalities (88%), mental disabilities (94%), and psychiatric conditions (36%) which makes the underlying genetic cause often difficult to suspect and diagnose.[9] Our patient has no neuropsychiatric manifestations currently; however, considering the increased risk of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, periodic neurological assessment is planned.

Majority of patients with 22q11.2DS have de novo mutations, as was the case in our patient, through an autosomal dominant inheritance has been described and affected individuals have a 50% chance of having affected progeny.[5] Hence, confirming the diagnosis is important not only for long term surveillance of the myriad-associated medical conditions but also for genetic counselling for the family.

To the best of our knowledge, our patient is the first reported case of adult onset hypoparathyroidism due to 22q11.2DS from India. Our case highlights that hypoparathyroidism in adult patients if associated with facial dysmorphism, should prompt a search for an underlying genetic cause. As many typical 22q11.2DS features are not seen in adults, findings such as intellectual disability and dysmorphism could help clinicians in identification of the condition.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 » References Top

Bilezikian JP, Khan A, Potts JT Jr, Brandi ML, Clarke BL, Shoback D, et al. Hypoparathyroidism in the adult: Epidemiology, diagnosis, pathophysiology, target-organ involvement, treatment, and challenges for future research. J Bone Miner Res 2011;26:2317-37.  Back to cited text no. 1
Fung WL, Butcher NJ, Costain G, Andrade DM, Boot E, Chow EW, et al. Practical guidelines for managing adults with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Genet Med 2015;17:599-609.  Back to cited text no. 2
Grati FR, Molina Gomes D, Ferreira JC, Dupont C, Alesi V, Gouas L, et al. Prevalence of recurrent pathogenic microdeletions and microduplications in over 9500 pregnancies. Prenat Diagn 2015;35:801-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bassett AS, Chow EW, Husted J, Weksberg R, Caluseriu O, Webb GD, et al. Clinical features of 78 adults with 22q11 Deletion Syndrome. Am J Med Genet A 2005;138:307-13.  Back to cited text no. 4
McDonald-McGinn DM, Sullivan KE, Marino B, Philip N, Swillen A, Vorstman JA, et al. 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Nat Rev Dis Primers 2015;1:15071.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kar PS, Ogoe B, Poole R, Meeking D. Di-George syndrome presenting with hypocalcaemia in adulthood: Two case reports and a review. J Clin Pathol 2005;58:655-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ryan AK, Goodship JA, Wilson DI, Philip N, Levy A, Seidel H, et al. Spectrum of clinical features associated with interstitial chromosome 22q11 deletions: A European collaborative study. J Med Genet 1997;34:798-804.  Back to cited text no. 7
Botto LD, May K, Fernhoff PM, Correa A, Coleman K, Rasmussen SA, et al. A population-based study of the 22q11.2 deletion: Phenotype, incidence, and contribution to major birth defects in the population. Pediatrics 2003;112:101-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Cohen E, Chow EW, Weksberg R, Bassett AS. Phenotype of adults with the 22q11 deletion syndrome: A review. Am J Med Genet 1999;86:359-65.  Back to cited text no. 9
Maalouf NM, Sakhaee K, Odvina CV. A case of chromosome 22q11 deletion syndrome diagnosed in a 32-year-old man with hypoparathyroidism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004;89:4817-20.  Back to cited text no. 10
Hieronimus S, Bec-Roche M, Pedeutour F, Lambert JC, Wagner-Malher K, Mas JC, et al. The spectrum of parathyroid gland dysfunction associated with the microdeletion 22q11. Eur J Endocrinol 2006;155:47-52.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kapadia CR, Kim YE, McDonald-McGinn DM, Zackai EH, Katz LE. Parathyroid hormone reserve in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Genet Med 2008;10:224-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
Lima K, Abrahamsen TG, Wolff AB, Husebye E, Alimohammadi M, Kampe O, et al. Hypoparathyroidism and autoimmunity in the 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol 2011;165:345-52.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]


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