ArticleA Practical Approach to the Diagnosis and Management of MELAS: Case Report and ReviewThambisetty, Madhav MD, DPhil; Newman, Nancy J. MD; Glass, Jonathan D. MD; Frankel, Michael R. MD Author Information From the Departments of Neurology (M.T., N.J.N., J.D.G., M.R.F.), Ophthalmology (N.J.N.), and Neurosurgery (N.J.N.), Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Send reprint requests to Nancy J. Newman, MD, Neuro-Ophthalmology Unit, Emory Eye Center, 1365-B Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322. E-mail: [email protected] The Neurologist: September 2002 - Volume 8 - Issue 5 - p 302-312 Buy Abstract BACKGROUND– Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis with stroke-like episodes (MELAS) is a mitochondrial disorder and an important diagnostic consideration in the young patient with nonhemorrhagic stroke. Its presentation is varied and diagnosis is based on early recognition of the clinical features and correct interpretation of laboratory and radiologic studies. SUMMARY– In this article, we report a patient with MELAS and review the clinical, laboratory, and neuroradiologic features of the condition. In the young patient with multiple stroke-like episodes in different vascular territories and neuroradiologic features of transient abnormalities in varying regions, laboratory testing for MELAS must be performed. The presence of ragged red fibers in skeletal muscle and biochemical demonstration of defects in mitochondrial respiratory enzymes strongly support the diagnosis. Molecular genetic testing for abnormalities in mitochondrial DNA will confirm the diagnosis. The importance of a thorough assessment of family history is also emphasized. The basic principles of mitochondrial genetics and the common point mutations and rearrangements of mitochondrial DNA associated with MELAS are reviewed. Although treatment options are limited, several therapeutic agents have been studied. CONCLUSIONS– The diagnosis of MELAS should be considered in the young patient with stroke, especially when accompanied by other clinical features such as seizures, encephalopathy, and muscle weakness. Laboratory evaluation can provide an accurate diagnosis, especially when the appropriate mitochondrial DNA studies are performed. Genetic counseling should be provided to patients with MELAS associated with mitochondrial DNA point mutations. Better understanding of the molecular basis of the condition may result in the development of effective treatment strategies. © 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.