Thalamic aphasia associated with mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes: A case report



      Mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) with aphasia is a rare disorder, with the associated aphasia reported as either Wernicke’s or Broca’s. Herein, we report a patient with MELAS complicated by thalamic aphasia.


      A 15-year-old right-handed girl presented with headache, nausea, right homonymous hemianopsia, and aphasia. She could repeat words said by others, but had word-finding difficulty, paraphasia, and dysgraphia. Brain MRI revealed abnormal signals from the left occipital lobe to the temporal lobe and left thalamus, but Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area were not involved. Additionally, she had short stature, lactic acidosis, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, and a maternal family history of diabetes and mild deafness. Based on clinical findings and the presence of a mitochondrial A3243G mutation, she was diagnosed with MELAS. With treatment, the brain MRI lesions disappeared and her symptoms improved. Her aphasia was classified as amnesic aphasia because she could repeat words, despite having word-finding difficulty, paraphasia, and dysgraphia. Based on MRI findings of a left thalamic lesion, we diagnosed her with thalamic aphasia.


      Thalamic aphasia may be caused by MELAS. Assessment of whether repetition is preserved is important for classifying aphasia.


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