Parkinsonism due to manganism in a welder

 A 33-year-old right-handed male presented complaining of a 2-year history of progressive cognitive slowing, rigidity, tremors, slowing of movements, and gait instability leading to falls. On examination, he had a Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) score of 29, slowed saccadic eye pursuit, hypomimia, cogwheel rigidity, a 3- to 4-Hz tremor, and a "cock-walk" gait. His symptoms and signs were similar to idiopathic Parkinson's disease; however, he was young, inattention and forgetfulness occurred early in the course of the disorder, levodopa was unhelpful, and his gait was atypical. His work up for secondary causes of parkinsonism was negative, except for increased signal intensity on T1-weighted magnetic resonance image (MRI) in the bilateral basal ganglia. Typical etiologies for that finding were ruled-out, which led to further inquiries into the patient's lifestyle. He was a welder, and discussion with his employer revealed that he used a steel-manganese alloy, he often worked in a confined ship's hold, and he did not use a respiratory mask. Because manganese toxicity can produce increased T1-weighted signal intensities in the basal ganglia, the authors tested his serum and urine manganese, and both were elevated. This patient emphasizes the importance of a careful occupational history in persons presenting with atypical manifestations of a neurodegenerative disorder. It also lends support to the hypothesis that welding can produce enough exposure to manganese to produce neurologic impairment.

PMID: 14555414 [PubMed - in process]